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Literature / Florante at Laura

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Featuring Laura with an Adaptation Dye-Job
Florante at Laura (lit. "Florante and Laura") is a Filipino epic written by Francisco Balagtas, a.k.a. Francisco Baltazar, during his time in prison. Completed in 1838, the work is dedicated to "Selya", his beloved at the time, and is an allegory for the state of the Philippines under Spanish colonialism, as well as the state Balagtas was in while incarcerated. Set during The Crusades, the work itself is about the life of Florante, duke of the Kingdom of Albania, Aladin, prince of Persia (no, not that one), Adolfo, the evil Big Bad greedy for power, and Laura, Florante's beloved.

Of note is the fact that despite being a Filipino work, other than the language (obviously), and the main characters' religions, nothing else is Filipino about the poem. It's generally agreed upon that Balagtas wrote about a completely foreign setting and characters as a means to bypass the Censorship Bureau of the colonial regime, which would've likely comprised both government officials and Catholic friars. At the time, The Church (so closely wedded to State in the Spanish Empire) controlled most local media, owning as they did most of the colony's printing presses. The strongest piece of evidence for this, perhaps, is the fact that Balagtas tacked on a couple of lines at the end of the epic suggesting that the Muslims Aladin and Flerida converted to Christianity. He doesn't dwell, though, on whether they stayed Christian or attempted to spread that gospel upon returning to their native (and obviously majority-Muslim) lands. Then again, writing about completely foreign settings doesn't make Balagtas much different from, say, William Shakespeare, who was famously obsessed with Italy to the point of setting many of his plays there despite having never gone (according to what we know, at least).


Florante at Laura is written in a peculiar literary form known as Awit (lit. "Song") - each stanza has four lines with 12 syllables each. This form is notorious for having oddly specific guidelines, notably "each line must be/contain a figure of speech" and have a "slight pause (known as a caesura) on every 6th syllable".

Adapted several times for other media, including into a Comic-Book Adaptation à la Illustrated Classics (see page image) and a musical, Balinese-style shadow play in the mid-2000s.


Tropes Appearing in Florante at Laura:

  • Action Girl: In the few chapters we see her in, Flerida.
  • Attempted Rape: Laura gets this. Twice.
  • Author Avatar: Florante is Balagtas.
  • Author Tract: Basically the whole thing, but special mention goes to the chapter "Pag-Ibig Anakin", which is dedicated to bashing parents who spoil their kids.
  • Badass Bookworm: Florante.
  • Beginner's Luck: Florante bests Osmalic, a known and fearsome general. It's Florante's first real fight.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: How Flerida got out of the castle.
  • Beneath the Mask: In his younger days, Adolfo pretended to be sweet, elegant, and smart, never picking a fight. This was not the case.
  • Beta Couple: Aladin and Flerida.
  • Big Bad: Adolfo.
  • Bigger Bad: Sultan Ali-Adab of Persia.
  • Bound and Gagged: When Florante comes back after battle because he received a letter from King Linceo thought that's actually Adolfo, he gets ambushed and this happens.
  • Chained To A Tree: How we find Florante in the beginning.
  • Character Title
  • Contrived Coincidence: Just after Aladin rescues Florante who tells him the events of the story, they walked around the forest and bumped into Flerida and Laura. Either that's coincidence or the forest is very small.
  • The Coup: How Adolfo comes to power in Albania.
  • Creator Breakdown: "Gubat na Mapanglaw" = Balagtas' state in the prison.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Florante's mom and dad, Floresca and Briseo. Floresca was loving, if overprotective, and Briseo was kind, caring, and a paragon of virtue.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Florante. He nearly gets killed in a School Play. Just before he returns home, his mom dies. He suddenly becomes general of Albania's army and must separate from Laura to fight. He receives a letter from Albania to return home where he is ambushed by Adolfo and thrown into jail. While there, he finds out that Briseo and Linceo have been killed, finds out that Adolfo is now in charge of the kingdom and has Laura, after which he is banished and chained to a tree in Mordor forest. Wow.
  • Distressed Damsel: Laura. So much.
  • Evil Always Triumphs In The Middle: Adolfo takes over Albania, has Briseo and Linceo killed, kidnaps Laura and has Florante banished and tied to a tree.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of the then-prevalent, Catholic-Filipino epic genre note , classifiable mainly into two forms: the awit and the corrido, and the related moro-moro form, all of which featured Divine Intervention and Christian morality triumphing over the foreign—usually Muslim—Other. Florante at Laura subverts this by having Florante saved by man instead of God, and making its principal villain as much of a Christian as the protagonists, whilst the major supporting cast—notably Aladin and Flerida—are explicitly heroic Muslims, so much so that Balagtas likely only managed to keep them in the poem in the following way, as seen below:
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: During the time, Christianity abhorred Muslims. Aladin is a Muslim prince and one of the good guys. To get this past the censors, Balagtas took two lines to mention that Aladin and Flerida were baptized as Christians at the end.
    • He also used tons of metaphors and symbols to issue Take Thats against Spain's rule. For example, Florante being tied to the tree in the beginning is an allegory to Filipinos being captive under Spain.
  • Glory Seeker: Hinted to be the reason Adolfo wore his mask back at school.
  • The Good Chancellor: Duke Briseo.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: Don't say you weren't expecting it.
  • Good Samaritan: Aladin, a Muslim prince, helps Florante, a Christian, despite the fierce rivalry between Christians and Muslims back then. He slays the tiger that was about to eat Florante, and stays up all night to tend to Florante and defend both of them from the animals lurking in the forest.
  • Greed: Adolfo's avarice for power and money is his motivation.
  • The High Middle Ages: The presumed setting of the epic; more specifically, sometime during The Crusades.
  • How We Got Here: How the story is told.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Adolfo to Laura. Florante first thinks it's consensual, though.
  • In Medias Res: The story starts with our hero, Florante, tied to a tree.
  • Long Title: The full title, in archaic Tagalog, is "Pinagdaanang Buhay nina Florante at Laura sa Kahariang Albanya: Kinuha sa madlang "cuadro histórico" o pinturang nagsasabi sa mga nangyayari nang unang panahon sa Imperyo ng Gresya, at tinula ng isang matuwain sa bersong Tagalog." note 
  • Love at First Sight: Florante and Laura.
  • Mordor: "Gubat na Mapanglaw" ("Melancholic Forest").
  • Manipulative Bastard: Adolfo. He convinced Albania that King Linceo was going to starve them, staged a coup with the support of the enraged citizens, had the court massacred, and declared himself king.
  • Name and Name: The usual, Official Couple variant.
  • Near-Villain Victory: Adolfo's got the throne, he's got Florante and all the good in Albania banished and he's got Laura. Then he gets killed by an arrow to the head from Flerida who just happened to be passing by when she witnessed Adolfo trying to rape Laura.
  • No OSHA Compliance: One imagines the director or crew behind the School Play would've prevented Adolfo from using real weapons against Florante.
  • Posthumous Character: Briseo, Floresca.
  • Revenge: Adolfo's main motivator in the latter part of the book.
  • School Play: Back in Athens, they performed Oedipus Rex.
  • Shown Their Work: Balagtas was a pretty educated guy. You can see that in all the references to Greek mythology he throws in.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": There's a bit of a debate over whether Florante ought to be spelled Plorante because he gets likened to flowers (Spanish flor) but then also to sorrow (archaic Spanish plorar, now llorar though) in quick succession. Or maybe it's just a pun.
  • Stepford Smiler: Adolfo, Type 3.
  • Take That!: Basically a huge one against the Spanish government and the corrupt Church.
  • The Usurper: Adolfo to the Albanian throne.
  • Yandere: Aladin shows signs. He gets two verses where he first contemplates The Power of Love and how it can tear apart even the closest True Companions... then says that since that is so, he doesn't need goodness or kindness and will crush those who come between him and Flerida.


Example of: