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Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not)

Author: Jos Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda wrote the first sections of his
novel Noli Me Tangere in 1884 in Madrid, Spain when he was still studying medicine. Rizal continued with this novel in Paris, France after he finished his medicine course. Jose Rizal finished the last sections of the novel in Berlin, Germany. Rizal drew his inspiration in writing Noli Me Tangere from a book entitled Uncle Toms Cabin which was authored by Harriet Beacher Stowe. Uncle Toms Cabin is about the life of Negro slaves under the hands of powerful white Americans. The book centered on the sufferings, maltreatment and hardships experienced by the Negro slaves and compared the sad plight of the slaves with the unfair treatment experienced by his countrymen under the Spanish rule. Jose Rizal first thought of gathering the written experiences of his countrymen against the Spanish rule and compiles it with his thoughts to complete the book but later changed his mind and wrote the book just by himself. Rizal also consulted his friend Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt on the issues he tackled in the book and the need to write about those issues.

Main Characters:
Crisostomo Ibarra Juan Crisstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, commonly referred to the novel as Ibarra or Crisstomo, is the protagonist in the story. Son of a Filipino businessman, Don Rafael Ibarra, he studied in Europe for seven years.Ibarra is also Mara Clara's fianc. Several sources claim that Ibarra is also Rizal's reflection: both studied in Europe and both persons believe in the same ideas. 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, commonly referred to as Mara Clara, is Ibarra's fiance. 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 convent for nuns Beaterio de Santa Clara. In the epilogue dealing with the fate of the characters, Rizal stated that it is unknown if Mara Clara is still living within the walls of the convent or she is already dead. Capitn Tiago Don Santiago de los Santos, known by his nickname Tiago and political title Capitn Tiago 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. In the novel, it is said that Capitn Tiago is the richest man in the region of Binondo and he possessed real properties in Pampanga and Laguna de Bay. 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 friarwho taught him informal education. He married Pa Alba from Santa Cruz. Padre Dmaso Dmaso Verdolagas, or Padre Dmaso 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. Elas Elas 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 oppression.

The 50th chapter of the novel explores the past of Elas and history of his family. In the past, Ibarra's great-grandfather condemned Elas' grandfather of burning a warehouse which led into misfortune for Elas' family. His father was refused to be married by her mother because his father's past and family lineage was discovered by his mother's family. In the long run, Elas and his twin sister was raised by their maternal grandfather. When they were teenagers, their distant relatives called them hijos de bastardo or illegitimate children. One day, his sister disappeared which led him to search for her. His search led him into different places, and finally, he became a fugitive and subversive. Pilosopong Tacio Filosofo Tacio, known by his Filipinized name Pilosopo Tasyo, is another major character in the story. 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 Anastasio. 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 forreasoning. Doa Victorina Doa Victorina de los Reyes de Espadaa, commonly known as Doa Victorina, is an ambitious Filipina who classifies herself as a Spanish and mimics Spanish ladies by putting on heavy make-up. The novel narrates Doa Victorina's younger days: she had lots of admirers, but she did not choose any of them because nobody was a Spaniard. Later on, she met and married Don Tiburcio de Espadaa, an official of the customs bureau who is about ten years her junior. However, their marriage is childless. Her husband assumes the title of medical doctor even though he never attended medical school; using fake documents and certificates, Tiburcio practices illegal medicine. Tiburcio's usage of the title Dr. consequently makes Victorina assume the title Dra. (doctora, female doctor). Apparently, she uses the whole name Doa Victorina de los Reyes de de Espadaa, with double de to emphasize her marriage surname. She seems to feel that this awkward titling makes her more "sophisticated."

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. 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 about. 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 disdain for the friars and corrupt officials, and sympathizes with Ibarra. Don Filipo Lino vice mayor of the town of San Diego, leader of the liberals. Padre Manuel Martn - he is the linguist curate of a nearby town who delivers the sermon during San Diego's fiesta. 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 daughter. In reality, she was raped by Dmaso so she could bear a child.

Having completed his studies in Europe, young Juan Crisstomo Ibarra y Magsalin came back to the Philippines after a 7-year absence. In his honor, Don Santiago de los Santos "Captain Tiago" a family friend, threw a welcome home party, attended by friars and other prominent figures. One of the guests, former San Diego curate Fray Dmaso Vardolagas, belittled and slandered Ibarra. The next day, Ibarra visits Mara Clara, his betrothed, the beautiful daughter of Captain Tiago and affluent resident of Binondo. Their long-standing love was clearly manifested in this meeting, and Mara Clara cannot help but reread the letters her sweetheart had written her before he went to Europe. Before Ibarra left for San Diego, Lieutenant Guevara, a Civil Guard, reveals to him the incidents preceding the death of his father, Don Rafael Ibarra, a rich haciendero of the town. According to Guevara, Don Rafael was unjustly accused of being a heretic, in addition to being a subversive an allegation brought forth by Dmaso because of Don Rafael's nonparticipation in the Sacraments, such as Confession and Mass. Fr. Dmaso's animosity towards Ibarra's father is aggravated by another incident when Don Rafael helped out in a fight between

a tax collector and a child, with the former's death being blamed on him, although it was not deliberate. Suddenly, all those who thought ill of him surfaced with additional complaints. He was imprisoned, and just when the matter was almost settled, he died of sickness in jail. Revenge was not in Ibarra's plans, instead he carried through his father's plan of putting up a school, since he believed education would pave the way to his country's progress (all throughout the novel, the author refers to both Spain and the Philippines as two different countries but part of the same nation or family, with Spain seen as the mother and the Philippines as the daughter). During the inauguration of the school, Ibarra would have been killed in a sabotage had Elas a mysterious man who had warned Ibarra earlier of a plot to assassinate him not saved him. Instead the hired killer met an unfortunate incident and died. After the inauguration, Ibarra hosted a luncheon during which Fr. Dmaso, gate-crashing the luncheon, again insulted him. Ibarra ignored the priest's insolence, but when the latter slandered the memory of his dead father, he was no longer able to restrain himself and he lunged at Dmaso, prepared to stab him for his impudence. Consequently, Dmaso excommunicated Ibarra, taking this opportunity to persuade the already-hesitant Tiago to forbid his daughter from marrying Ibarra. The friar wanted Mara Clara to marry Linares, a Peninsular who just arrived from Spain. With the help of the Governor-General, Ibarra's excommunication was nullified and the Archbishop decided to accept him as a member of the Church once again. Soon, a revolt happened and the Spanish officials and friars implicated Ibarra as its mastermind. Thus, he was arrested and detained. As a result, he was disdained by those who became his friends. Meanwhile, in Capitn Tiago's residence, a party was being held to announce the upcoming wedding of Mara Clara and Linares. Ibarra, with the help of Elas, took this opportunity to escape from prison. Before leaving, Ibarra spoke to Mara Clara and accused her of betraying him, thinking she gave the letter he wrote her to the jury. Mara Clara explained that she would never conspire against him, but that she was forced to surrender Ibarra's letter to Father Salvi, in exchange for the letters written by her mother even before she, Mara Clara, was born. Mara Clara, thinking Ibarra had been killed in the shooting incident, was greatly overcome with grief. Robbed of hope and severely disillusioned, she asked Dmaso to confine her to a nunnery. Dmaso reluctantly agreed when she threatened to take her own life, demanding, "the nunnery or death!"[2] Unbeknownst to her, Ibarra was still alive and able to escape. It was Elas who had taken the shots. It was Christmas Eve when Elas woke up in the forest fatally wounded. It is here where he instructed Ibarra to meet him. Instead, Elas found the altar boy Basilio cradling his alreadydead mother, Sisa. The latter lost her mind when she learned that her two sons, Crispn and Basilio, were chased out of the convent by the sacristan mayor on suspicions of stealing sacred objects.

Elas, convinced he would die soon, instructs Basilio to build a funeral pyre and burn his and Sisa's bodies to ashes. He tells Basilio that, if nobody reaches the place, he was to return later and dig as he would find gold. Elas further tells Basilio to take the gold he finds and go to school. In his dying breath, he instructed Basilio to continue dreaming about freedom for his motherland with the words: I shall die without seeing the dawn break upon my homeland. You, who shall see it, salute it! Do not forget those who have fallen during the night. Elas died thereafter. In the epilogue, it was explained that Tiago became addicted to opium and was seen to frequent the opium house in Binondo to satiate his addiction. Mara Clara became a nun when Salv, who had lusted after her from the beginning of the novel, regularly used her to fulfill his lust. One stormy evening, a beautiful insane woman was seen at the top of the convent crying and cursing the heavens for the fate it had handed her. While the woman was never identified, it is insinuated that the said woman was Mara Clara.

Moral Lesson:
Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not was the most controversial novel of Rizal aside from the predicaments he encountered just to publish this novel. He did it to ridicule the friars and let the Filipinos be awoke of the oppression and learn to fight. It contained all the immoralities of the spaniards. So I think the lessons we can get from it is learn how to fight in a peaceful manner, fighting doesnt need a bolos, a sumpit or lantakas but it can also be possible using your pen, your wisdom. As a Filipino we should learn to be united in deeds avoiding the et empera policy that the Spanish brought to us.

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