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Textual Analysis of

Noli Me Tangere
The Author and the Novels style,
Title, Cover, Preface, Theme,
Characters, Plot, Point of Conflict
and Denouement
The author and the novels
Technique refers to the method and devices that the author
uses; style refers to language.
The Noli me tngere can be regarded as a historical
novel, as it has mostly fictional characters but also
historical persons like Father Burgos who lived in
actual places within a social system that was then
typical of a colonized land.

Admittedly, Rizal exaggerated a bit, as in his portrayal
of characters like the friars Damaso, Salvi, and Sibyla;
the two women who were preoccupied with prayers
and novenas, and, the Espadaas but, on the whole,
the novel follows the basic rules of realism.

Humor worked best where a more serious
presentation of the general practices of religion
during that time (and even up to present time)
would have given the novel a darker and
pessimistic tone.

Rizals description of the lavish fiesta showed the
comic antics at church and the ridiculous expense
for one day of festivities.
Noli me tngere
Literally translated, the Latin words noli me tngere
means, touch me not
Taken from John 20:17 when Mary Magdalene holds
on to Jesus and he tells her not to touch him.

John 20:17
Jesus said to her: Stop clinging to me. For I have not yet
ascended to the Father . But be on your way to my
brothers and say to them, I am ascending to my
Father and to your Father and to my God and your

CROSS- sufferings

LEAVES- honor and fidelity


BURNING TORCH- rage and passion

SUNFLOWERS- enlightenment

DOWN BUT GREW BACK- resilience

FEET- priests using religion in a dirty

CHAINS- slavery

WHIPS- cruelties

arrogance of those in authority
At the top, all that is best in Philippine life: woman, symbolizing
constancy, religious faith symbolized by the tombstone, with a laurel
(courage) and the flower of the pomelo, worn by bride and groom at
a wedding and symbolizing purity.

The words partly covered by the title are the secret, inner dedication
by Rizal to his parents, the complete text being probably:
A mis P(adres.) al escribir e(sta obra he estado) pensando
continuamente e(n vosotros que me) habeis
infundido los (primeros pensamientos) y las primeras ideas; a
(vosotros os dedi)co este manuscrito de me (joventud com p)rueba
de amor.
Berlin, (21 de Febrero de) 1887.

To the left of the title, the flower mirasol, representing youth
seeking the sun.
The author's name, meaning the green of renewal, mounting up into
the green of the most enduring of all Philippine trees, the bamboo.
At the bottom, all that is worst in Philippine life: the helmet of the
Civil Guard, the whip and instruments of torture, and the foot of a
In the preface of his novel Rizal promises to reproduce
the condition (of the country) faithfully, without
discrimination. He wants to sacrifice to truth
Rizal wrote in his dedication page in the Noli me
tngere, I will strive to reproduce thy condition
faithfully, without discriminations; I will raise a part of
the veil that covers the evil
He clearly stated his intention of giving an accurate
picture of the conditions in the Philippines at the time,
and this gives the reader a good idea what the main
theme would be.
Theme as an element of fiction is the idea that runs through
the whole novel, repeated again and again in various forms
and ways.

The theme of Noli me Tangere comes from the Gospel
of John. John tells that when Jesus showed himself after
the Resurrection, it was first to Mary Magdalene.
Jesus called her and she turned round and saw him. But
Jesus did not want her to touch him. He said literally to
her, Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended
to the Father.
But go to the brothers and tell them: I am ascending to
my father and your Father, my God and your God.
The Noli me Tangere or Touch me not is a symbol of the
need for distance.
The Noli me Tangere is a similar theme of longing and
There is no more tragic love and of course no greater love
than of two beings unable to reach each other, since such
a love eternally remains unblemished.
Rizal's book persistently unmasks contemporary Spaniards
in the Philippines of every kind.
He exposes corruption and brutality of the civil guards
which drive good men to crime and banditry.

He focuses on an administration crawling with self-seekers,
out to make their fortune at the expense of the Filipinos,
so that the few officials who are honest and sincere are
unable to overcome the treacherous workings of the
system, and their efforts to help the country often end up
in frustration or in self-ruin.
The Noli is Rizal's expos of corrupt friars who have made
the Catholic religion an instrument for enriching and
perpetuating themselves in power by seeking to mire
ignorant Filipinos in fanaticism and superstition.
According to Rizal, instead of teaching Filipinos true
Catholicism, they control the government by opposing all
progress and persecuting members of the ilustrado unless
they make themselves their servile flatterers.
Rizal does not, however, spare his fellow countrymen.

The superstitious and hypocritical fanaticism of many who
consider themselves religious people;
the ignorance, corruption, and brutality of the Filipino civil
the passion for gambling unchecked by the thought of duty
and responsibility;
the servility of the wealthy Filipino towards friars and
government officials;
the ridiculous efforts of Filipinos to dissociate themselves
from their fellowmen or to lord it over them--all these are
ridiculed and disclosed.
Rizal nevertheless balances the national portrait by
highlighting the virtues and good qualities of his unspoiled
the modesty and devotion of the Filipina, the unstinting
hospitality of the Filipino family,
the devotion of parents to their children and children to their
the deep sense of gratitude, and
the solid common sense of the untutored peasant.
It calls on the Filipino to recover his self-confidence, to
appreciate his own worth, to return to the heritage of his
ancestors, and to assert himself as the equal of the Spaniard.
It insists on the need of education, of dedication to the
country, and of absorbing aspects of foreign cultures that
would enhance the native traditions."

Major characters

Ibarra (Juan Crisstomo Ibarra y Magsalin)
Son of a Filipino businessman, Don Rafael Ibarra, he studied in
Europe for seven years. Ibarra is also Mara Clara's fianc. Upon
his return, Ibarra requested the local government of San Diego
to construct a public school to promote education in the town.

Mara Clara (Mara Clara de los Santos y Alba)
She was raised by Capitn Tiago, San Diego's cabeza de
barangay and is the most beautiful and widely celebrated girl in
San Diego.

In the later parts of the novel, Mara Clara's identity was
revealed as an illegitimate daughter of Father Dmaso, former
parish curate of the town, and Doa Pa Alba, wife of Capitn
Tiago. In the end she entered local covenant for nuns Beaterio
de Santa Clara.
Capitn Tiago (Don Santiago de los Santos)
is a Filipino businessman and the cabeza de barangay or head of
barangay of the town of San Diego. He is also the known father of
Mara Clara. He is also said to be a good Catholic, friend of the Spanish
government and was considered as a Spanish by colonialists. Capitn
Tiago never attended school, so he became a domestic helper of a
Dominican friar who taught him informal education. He married Pa
Alba from Santa Cruz.
Padre Dmaso (Dmaso Verdolagas)
is a Franciscan friar and the former parish curate of San Diego. He is
best known as a notorious character who speaks with harsh words and
has been a cruel priest during his stay in the town.

He is the real father of Mara Clara and an enemy of Crisstomo's
father, Rafael Ibarra.

Later, he and Mara Clara had bitter arguments
whether she would marry Alfonso Linares or go to a convent. At the
end of the novel, he is again re-assigned to a distant town and is found
dead one day.
is Ibarra's mysterious friend and ally. Elas made his first appearance
as a pilot during a picnic of Ibarra and Mara Clara and her friends.
He wants to revolutionize the country and to be freed from Spanish

Filosofo Tacio(Pilosopo Tasyo)
Seeking for reforms from the government, he expresses his ideals in
paper written in a cryptographic alphabet similar from hieroglyphs
and Coptic figures hoping "that the future generations may be able
to decipher it" and realized the abuse and oppression done by the
conquerors. His full name is only known as Don Anastacio.
The educated inhabitants of San Diego labeled him as Filosofo Tacio
(Tacio the Sage) while others called him as Tacio el Loco (Insane
Tacio) due to his exceptional talent for reasoning.
Sisa, Crispn, and Basilio

Sisa, Crispn, and Basilio represent a Filipino family persecuted by
the Spanish authorities.

Narcisa or Sisa is the deranged mother of Basilio and Crispn.
Described as beautiful and young, although she loves her
children very much, she can not protect them from the
beatings of her husband, Pedro.
Crispn is Sisa's 7-year-old son. An altar boy, he was unjustly
accused of stealing money from the church.
After failing to force Crispn to return the money he allegedly
stole, Father Salv and the head sacristan killed him.
Basilio is Sisa's 10-year-old son. An acolyte tasked to ring the
church bells for the Angelus, he faced the dread of losing his
younger brother and falling of his mother into insanity.
Other characters
Padre Hernando de la Sibyla a Dominican friar. He is described as
short and has fair skin. He is instructed by an old priest in his order to
watch Crisstomo Ibarra.
Padre Bernardo Salv the Franciscan curate of San Diego, secretly
harboring lust for Mara Clara. He is described to be very thin and sickly.
It is also hinted that his last name, "Salvi" is the shorter form of "Salvi"
meaning Salvation, or "Salvi" is short for "Salvaje" meaning bad hinting
to the fact that he is willing to kill an innocent child, Crispin, just to get
his money back, though there was not enough evidence that it was
Crispin who has stolen his 2 onzas.
El Alfrez or Alperes chief of the Guardia Civil. Mortal enemy of the
priests for power in San Diego and husband of Doa Consolacion.
Doa Consolacon wife of the Alfrez, nicknamed as la musa de los
guardias civiles (The muse of the Civil Guards) or la Alfreza, was a
former laundrywoman who passes herself as a Peninsular; best
remembered for her abusive treatment of Sisa.
Doa Victorina (Doa Victorina de los Reyes de Espadaa)
is an ambitious Filipina who classifies herself as a Spanish and
mimics Spanish ladies by putting on heavy make-up.

Don Tiburcio de Espadaa Spanish Quack Doctor who is limp
and submissive to his wife, Doa Victorina.
Teniente Guevara - a close friend of Don Rafael Ibarra. He
reveals to Crisstomo how Don Rafael Ibarra's death came
Alfonso Linares A distant nephew of Tiburcio de Espanada,
the would-be fianc of Mara Clara. Although he presented
himself as a practitioner of law, it was later revealed that he,
just like Don Tiburcio, is a fraud. He later died due to given
medications of Don Tiburcio.
Ta Isabel - Capitn Tiago's cousin, who raised Maria Clara.
Governor General (Gobernador Heneral) Unnamed person in
the novel, he is the most powerful official in the Philippines.
He has great disdains against the friars and corrupt officials,
and sympathizes Ibarra.

Don Filipo Lino vice mayor of the town of San Diego,
leader of the liberals.
Padre Manuel Martn - he is the linguistic curate of a
nearby town, who says the sermon during San Diego's
Don Rafael Ibarra - father of Crisstomo Ibarra. Though
he is the richest man in San Diego, he is also the most
virtuous and generous.
Dona Pa Alba - wife of Capitan Tiago and mother of
Mara Clara. She died giving birth to her. In reality, she
was raped by Dmaso so she could bear a child.
Non-recurring characters
These characters were mentioned in the novel, appeared
once, mentioned many times or have no major contribution to
the storyline.
Don Pedro Eibarramendia - the great-grandfather of
Crisstomo Ibarra who came from the Basque area of Spain.
He started the misfortunes of Elias' family.
His descendants abbreviated their surname to Ibarra. He
died of unknown reasons, but was seen as a decaying corpse
on a Balite Tree.
Don Saturnino Ibarra - the son of Don Pedro, father of Don
Rafael and grandfather of Crisstomo Ibarra. He was the one
who developed the town of San Diego. He was described as
a cruel man but was very clever.
Salom - Elas' sweetheart. She lives in a little house by the
lake, and though Elas would like to marry her, he tells her
that it would do her or their children no good to be related
to a fugitive like himself.
Sinang - Maria Clara's friend. Because Crisstomo Ibarra
offered half of the school he was building to Sinang, he
gained Capitan Basilio's support.
Iday, Andeng and Victoria - Maria Clara's other friends.
Capitn Basilio - Sinang's father, leader of the conservatives.
Pedro the abusive husband of Sisa who loves cockfighting.
Tandng Pablo The leader of the tulisanes (bandits), whose family
was destroyed because of the Spaniards.
El hombre amarillo (apparently means "yellowish person", named as
Taong Madilaw) - One of Crisostomo Ibarra's would-be assassins. He
is not named in the novel, and only described as such. In the novel, he
carved the cornerstone for Ibarra's school. Instead of killing Ibarra, he
was killed by his cornerstone.
Lucas - the brother of the taong madilaw. He planned a revolution
against the government with Ibarra as the leader after he was turned
down by Ibarra. He was said to have a scar on his left cheek. He would
later be killed by the Sakristan Mayor.
Bruno and Tarsilo a pair of brothers whose father was killed by the
or Juan (ol Juan) - appointed as foreman of the school
to be built by Ibarra
Capitana Tika - Sinang's mother and wife of Capitan
Albino - a former seminarian who joined the picnic with
Ibarra and Mara Clara. Was later captured during the
Capitana Mara Elena - a nationalist woman who defends
Ibarra of the memory of his father.
Capitn Tinong and Capitn Valentn - other known
people from the town of San Diego.
Sacristn Mayor - The one who governs the altar boys
and killed Crispn for his accusation.
The plot revolves around Crisostomo Ibarra, mixed-race
heir of a wealthy clan, returning home after seven
years in Europe and filled with ideas on how to better
the lot of his countrymen. Striving for reforms, he is
confronted by an abusive ecclesiastical hierarchy and a
Spanish civil administration by turns indifferent and
The death of Ibarras father, Don Rafael, prior to his
homecoming, and the refusal of a Catholic burial by
Padre Damaso, the parish priest, provokes Ibarra into
hitting the priest, for which Ibarra is excommunicated.
The decree is rescinded, however, when the governor
general intervenes.

The friar and his successor, Padre Salvi, embody the
rotten state of the clergy. Their tangled feelingsone
paternal, the other carnalfor Maria Clara, Ibarras
sweetheart and rich Capitan Tiagos beautiful daughter,
steel their determination to spoil Ibarras plans for a
The town philosopher Tasio wryly notes similar past
attempts have failed, and his sage commentary makes
clear that all colonial masters fear that an enlightened
people will throw off the yoke of oppression.
Using satire brilliantly, Rizal creates other memorable
characters whose lives manifest the poisonous effects of
religious and colonial oppression.
Capitan Tiago; the social climber Doa Victorina de
Espadaa and her toothless Spanish husband;
the Guardia Civil head and his harridan of a wife; the
sorority of devout women;
the disaffected peasants forced to become outlaws:
in sum, a microcosm of Philippine society.
In the afflictions that plague them, Rizal paints a
harrowing picture of his beloved but suffering country in
a work that speaks eloquently not just to Filipinos but to
all who have endured or witnessed oppression.

Point of conflict
Ibarra debates with the mysterious Elias, with whose life his is
intertwined. The privileged Ibarra favors peaceful means,
while Elias, who has suffered injustice at the hands of the
authorities, believes violence is the only option.
Ibarras enemies, particularly Salvi, implicate him in a fake
insurrection, though the evidence against him is weak. Then
Maria Clara betrays him to protect a dark family secret, public
exposure of which would be ruinous. Ibarra escapes from
prison with Eliass help and confronts her.
She explains why, Ibarra forgives her, and he and Elias flee to
the lake. But chased by the Guardia Civil, one dies while the
other survives.
Convinced Ibarras dead, Maria Clara enters the nunnery,
refusing a marriage arranged by Padre Damaso. Her unhappy
fate and that of the more memorable Sisa, driven mad by the
fate of her sons, symbolize the countrys condition, at once
beautiful and miserable.

Crisostomo Ibarra
As the protagonist of the novel, Crisostomo Ibarra is
the character in whose character the main conflict
resides. It is easy enough to identify the external
Ibarra versus the society of his time -- its values and its
Ibarra versus Father Damaso and, indirectly, with the
other friars;
Ibarra versus Kapitan Tiago whose very strong sense of
self-preservation puts him in direct conflict with the
love between Maria Clara and Ibarra.
Maria clara
Maria Clara did not really resolve the conflicts within her;
she chose to escape, by entering the convent as a nun.
Rightly or wrongly, Maria Clara has been held as the ideal
Filipina which, perhaps, is the reason why many Filipinas
prefer to be or pretend to prefer being a Maria Clara type
with all its dubious virtues.
Many had used the convent as an escape from a world
that could not give them happiness or the fulfilment they
Other confilicts
Other conflicts, mostly internal reside in other
characters such as Sisa, Doa Victorina, Doa
Consolacion, and Elias. However, the more
internal conflict within Ibarra is the more
interesting one, as it expresses the dilemma of
present-day Filipinos: the conflict between
traditional values and ones personal values that
had been developed through time.
the final part of a play, film, etc. in which matters are
explained or resolved.

Interestingly, Maria Claras escapism was revealed in
the Epilogue when two patrolmen who sought shelter
from a storm under the eaves near the nunnery.
They saw a white figure standing almost on the ridge
of the roof with arms and face raised toward the sky as
if praying to it. She escaped a problem through
religion that was itself a part of that problem.
Ibarras enemies, particularly Salvi, implicate him in a
fake insurrection, though the evidence against him is
weak. Then Maria Clara betrays him to protect a dark
family secret, public exposure of which would be
ruinous. Ibarra escapes from prison with Eliass help
and confronts her.

She explains why, Ibarra forgives her, and he and
Elias flee to the lake. But chased by the Guardia
Civil, one dies while the other survives.
Convinced Ibarras dead, Maria Clara enters the
nunnery, refusing a marriage arranged by Padre
Her unhappy fate and that of the more
memorable Sisa, driven mad by the fate of her
sons, symbolize the countrys condition, at once
beautiful and miserable.
Uploaded by: (Original Uploader)
Jay Ann Marie Blancaflor
West Visayas State University
Rizal Subject 2012

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