Noli Me Tangere
(translated as "Touch Me Not"
) is a novel by Filipino author and national hero Jose Rizal, written in Spanish and published in 1887, which details the situation of the Philippines during the last part of Spanish rule.
Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, the son of a wealthy Creole landlord, has returned to the Spanish-controlled Philippines after seven years of studying in Europe. After realizing not much has changed thanks to The Government
and learning that his wealthy father died in jail for being labeled a heretic, he is understandably upset.
Nevertheless, revenge on the person who got his father that fate is not in Ibarra's plans, and all he wants to do is to settle down with his beautiful childhood fiancee Maria Clara and to finance a schoolhouse for the less fortunate with his father's money. Unfortunately, things most definitely do not work out as planned, and a Rant Inducing Slight
at the opening luncheon for the aforementioned school sets in motion a chain of events that will change Ibarra, and subsequently the country, forever.Noli Me Tangere
was wildly controversial and wildly game-changing at the time of its release; it was actually banned in several parts of the country due to its portrayal of priests as dirty old men
, the church as corrupt
, and the government as just as corrupt
, abusive, and indifferent. Nevertheless, the book managed to unify the Filipino consciousness and indirectly spark the Katipunan revolution, as several of its head honchos were inspired by the thoughts and messages in it. Meanwhile, Rizal himself was imprisoned for his writings containing subversive content, and was later executed at the age of thirty-five. Afterwards, the Rizal Law made studying this novel mandatory for all Philippine schools as part of their study on Filipino literature.
It has a sequel, El Filibusterismo
, which is set thirteen years later.
Not to be confused with the Boys Love Eroge
of the same name.
This novel contains the following tropes:
- Allegorical Character: every character is an allegory of the status of the country.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Ibarras are the exception.
- Author Avatar: Rizal is both Ibarra and Elias.
- San Diego, the town where the story is set, is very much inspired after Calamba, Laguna, the author's hometown.
- Author Filibuster: Philosopher Tacio often serves as the mouthpiece of Rizal's beliefs and ideals. Though it never goes into an Author Tract or become outright Anvilicious.
- Arranged Marriage: Maria Clara to Linares.
- Originally, Ibarra is Maria Clara's fiance, but Father Damaso meddled with their arrangement and chose Linares instead for Maria Clara.
- Banned in China: Being labeled as subversive, the book was banned in the colonial Philippines. The Corrupt Church at that time did everything in their power to suppress it's publication and distribution. Naturally, the ban made more Filipinos much more interested about the book. Nice job fixing it, Clergymen!
- Subverted in the current times, as the book and its sequel are required reading for High School students, and a course about the Author's life and works is a prerequisite in College.
- Big Damn Heroes: Ibarra, during a fishing trip in the lake, saved the boatman from being devoured by a crocodile. The boatman turns out to be Elias, and he returns the favor by saving Ibarra's life many, many times.
- Bilingual Bonus: The title is Latin for "Touch me not."
- Break the Cutie: Maria Clara. Sisa, and Ibarra, who, in El Filibusterismo, has become quite the cynic.
- Chekhov's Gun: Ibarra's letter of farewell to Maria Clara just before he studied abroad 7 years ago is the same letter used to convict him.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Various characters. An example would be the boatman Ibarra saves from a crocodile during the lake trip who turns out to be Elias, and the lady whose gown Lieutenant Guevarra steps on in the 1st chapter turns out to be Donya Victorina 42 chapters later.
- Corrupt Church: One of the issues raised by the book. Father Damaso is a bully, while Father Salvi is a Covert Pervert secretly harboring lust for Maria Clara.
- Crapsack World: At least if you're Filipino.
- Disney Death: Ibarra.
- Downer Ending: Ibarra's on the run, Elias is dead, Maria Clara, who thinks Ibarra is dead, chooses to enter the convent and stay there for the rest of her life.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Basilio has a dream that Crispin is being beaten by the Sacristan Mayor and Father Salvi.
- Face-Heel Turn: An apparent Face-Heel Turn is done by Ibarra when he comes back as Simoun in El Filibusterismo.
- Fallen Hero: Crisostomo Ibarra becomes Simoun in El Filibusterismo.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: Sisa, after learning about her son Crispin's fate.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Ibarra after seeing Maria Clara with Linares. Also, Padre Salvi towards Ibarra.
- The Heretic: According to Father Damaso, Don Rafael.
- Henpecked Husband: Don Tiburcio.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Elias.
- Inferred Survival: Ibarra.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Elias is implied to also be in love with Maria Clara. Nevertheless, he lets her and Ibarra be together.
- Jade-Colored Glasses
- Karma Houdini: Everyone who isn't Ibarra, Maria Clara, Elias, Tacio, Sisa or Basilio.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Capitan Tiago and his wife Pia (Maria Clara's mother) badly wanted a child and attended all sorts of rituals and congregations to be able to conceivse, despite being unable to for many years. Subverted, since in the end they do get their daughter and end up with Maria Clara. Double subverted as it turns out Maria Clara is a child born of rape, and that her real father is Father Damaso (Capitan Tiago was infertile).
- Limited Wardrobe: While well-off and can afford a variety of clothes, Captian Tiago's prefers to stick to his standard outfit of a frock coat, khaki trousers, a bowler hat and a cane.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Father Damaso is Maria Clara's real father.
- Market-Based Title: The English translation was called The Social Cancer.
- Missing Chapter: Chapter 25 of the novel (entitled Elias and Salome) was discarded by Rizal for being deemed irrelevant to the story. The manuscript was later found and is now being included in more recent copies of the novel.
- No Name Given: The Governor-General.
- Not Quite Dead: Ibarra.
- Parental Marriage Veto: The reason why Father Damaso is so adamant against Ibarra and Maria Clara's Arranged Marriage is not because he is Maria Clara's godfather, rather, he's her actual father.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: An incredible subversion. Maria Clara and Ibarra are not betrothed at first, but after their parents saw how much they love each other, they decided to have them in an Arranged Marriage.
- The Quisling: Donya Victorina, who also doubles as a Small Name, Big Ego.
- Rant Inducing Slight: After taking all the insults, Ibarra finally snapped at a luncheon resulting in a knife at Father Damaso's throat when the latter began to bad-mouth Ibarra's father.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Elias nearly kills Ibarra for being related to the Spaniard who ruined his entire clan. He snaps out of it, however.
- The Ophelia: Sisa, after Crispin's death.
- Parental Substitute: Since her mother died by Death by Childbirth, Maria Clara was raised by her Maiden Aunt Tia Isabel.
- Proper Lady: Maria Clara is written and promoted as such.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Ibarra and Maria Clara.
- Sequel Hook: The uncertainty of Ibarra's fate. It did.
- Taking the Veil: Maria Clara.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: The beautiful Maria Clara is Capitan Tiago's daughter. Subverted since it turns out she isn't really his daughter.
- Victorious Childhood Friend: Ibarra and Maria Clara are /would have been this for each other.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Ibarra. Until the next book, that is...