Given the relatively few examples of true liberty from real life, some of the best expressions of liberty have often come from novels. Such books inspire us to strive toward a future where the individual, not the government and its agents, determine human action.

The plot of Don Quixote, a Spanish novel written in 1605, contains some of the best representations of this vision. Considered a founding work of modern Western literature, the novel’s message that individuals can be right while society is wrong was considered radical for its day.

It’s been a major influence on Western books, movies, and plays since then. The timeless story of the hero struggling against injustice has its roots in Don Quixote.

In the new Learn Liberty video below, Universidad Francisco Marroquin Professor Eric Graf explains how Don Quixote is fundamentally about freedom. Don Quixote is a liberator who frees slaves convicted of petty crimes in a criminal justice system exploited by the government to achieve its ends—and he also objects to the state’s right to tax him.

But these specific examples are just part of the broader themes of individualism that define the book and the struggle for liberty itself.