The Noli Me Tangere characters and their representations

10 min read
the noli me tangere characters and their representations

Noli Me Tangere is a book written by Jose Rizal that mostly focuses on describing the Spanish colonialism that took place in the Philippines and the cruel treatment of the local Filipino population by the Spanish. It followed the narrative of Crisostomo Ibarra, who traveled all the way from Europe to study in the Philippines, and then returned there after a voyage that lasted seven years.

After its release, Noli Me Tangere came to be recognized as one of the factors that contributed to the beginning of the Filipino nationalist movement that eventually led to the 1896 Philippine Revolution. Not only did the book jolt dormant Filipino consciousness into existence, but it also laid the foundation for an aspiration to achieve independence.

There’s a lot of rich history when it comes to the famed characters of the novel. Here, we unfold every character one-by-one.

Below are the Noli Me Tangere characters and their representations:

1) Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (Ibarra)

One of the most famous characters in Noli Me Tangere is the main lead, Crisostomo IBarra. 

Crisostomo Ibarra is depicted as one of the Filipinos who managed to finish their studies abroad. Unlike his countrymen, he has a liberal mind, very outspoken, and idealistic. 

Crisostomo Ibarra exemplified the vision that Jose Rizal had aimed for the youth of the Philippines during his time. 

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2) Crispin

Crispin, alongside his brother Basilio, was introduced in Chapter 15 as one of the Noli Me Tangere characters. He is a sakristan who had been accused of stealing two gold pieces by the church. He was last seen being dragged away from his brother after ringing the bells. Crispin represents the innocents who have been wrongly accused of the crime they did not commit. 

The injustice they suffered under the hands of the authorities during their time were silenced by their deaths and the cover-ups that follow it. 

3) Maria Clara

Maria Clara’s character is inspired by Jose Rizal’s childhood sweetheart, Leonor Rivera, who is the Noli Me Tangere character in real life. Maria is portrayed as a faithful girl, a good friend, and an obedient daughter. She represented the ideal woman of the Philippines during that time. Her obedience was most exemplified as Rizal wanted to point out that the society favored that trait in that time period.

Maria Clara had a childish simplicity despite being showered with love and attention by every one her whole life. She also expresses her love to Ibarra with utmost modesty, while remaining unsullied by impure ideas. She symbolizes the purity and innocence of a sheltered Filipina. 

4) Padre Damaso

Another main Noli Me Tangere character is Padre Damaso.

Damaso Verdolagas is a Franciscan friar and the former parish curate of San Diego. He is a notorious character for being cruel and harsh. He is the real father of Maria Clara and Crisostomo’s father’s enemy. Padre Damaso symbolizes the Spanish friars of Rizal’s time and is a comment on how the Spanish controlled the Philippines. 

5) Elias

Elias is a former boatman who became one of the most wanted criminals in San Diego. He distrusts human judgment and prefers God’s will over everything. Elias. In contrast with Ibarra, prefers a revolution, or a war, instead of reforms. 

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Elias is one of the characters in Noli Me Tangere that represents the common Filipino who is not only aware of the injustices done to their countrymen, but would also like to deliver them from their oppressors. He is said to be likened to the famed Andres Bonifacio.

6) Pilosopo Tacio

Pilosopo Tacio is a famed Noli Me Tangere character; seeking reforms from the government, he expresses his ideals in a very cryptic manner. Tacio symbolizes the learned Filipinos who had once embraced the culture of the Spanish regime. They eventually became disenchanted when they returned to the Philippines, observing the stark contrast in terms of treatment received by the Filipinos from their colonizers. 

8) Donya Victorina

Donya Victorina is an ambitious Noli Me Tangere character who classifies herself as a Spanish, mimicking Spanish women by putting on heavy make-up to resemble their hispanic features. As one of the lesser evils in the novel, Donya Victorina symbolizes those who have a distorted view of their identity, or more famously known as “colonial mentality.” 

9) Don Tiburcio 

Don Tiburcio is the husband of Donya Victorina. He is introduced to the novel as one of the invited guests at Crisostomo Ibarra’s welcome home party. His entire character is a caricature of the ignorance of Filipinos when the Spaniards wreaked havoc in the provinces during the colonial era. 

10) Sisa

Another Noli Me Tangere character in real life setting, Sisa’s character is portrayed as the typical Filipina wife. She endures her gambler husband’s abuse and irresponsibility, still considering him as a “god” despite it all. She considers her sons, Basilio and Crispin, as her only treasure and would anticipate their return from the church. She represents the motherland who was suffering as her character had suffered; the tragic death of Crispin and constant abuse was a metaphor for what the Philippines was going through at that time. 

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11) Basilio

An acolyte tasked to ring the church bells, the Noli Me Tangere character, Basilio, faced the dread of losing his younger brother, Crispin, and watched the descent of his mother into insanity. At the end of the novel, Elias wished Basilio to bury him by burning in exchange for a chest of gold located on his death ground. 

Which of the ten presented above is your favorite and why? Put your thoughts in the comments!

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