Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere

Themes and Colors
Colonialism, Religion, and Power Theme Icon
Revolution and Reform Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Noli Me Tangere, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

José Rizal’s political novel Noli Me Tangere examines how Spain’s colonization of the Philippines allowed the Catholic church to dominate and rule the region. Colonialism produced tensions that would, roughly a decade after Rizal’s novel was published, lead Filipino natives to revolt against Spain’s oppressive religious and governmental bodies in the Philippine Revolution. Through Ibarra, the book’s protagonist who returns to the Philippines after having spent seven years in Europe, Rizal shows the shocking…

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Because Spanish friars and the Spanish colonial government had such control over the Philippines, Rizal naturally focuses much of his attention on the possibility of political change. He outlines two schools of thought for making political change: the moderate liberalism embodied by Ibarra, and the radical revolutionary ideology espoused by Elías. The first approach advocates for reform that would take place within the context of the oppressive religious and governmental forces that already…

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Rizal holds up education as a way of overcoming oppression. Ibarra, who is a respected figure because of the fact that he studied in Europe, fiercely advocates the importance of intellect and education by building a school in San Diego. In doing so, he seeks to give the townspeople a means of empowerment outside the context of the church. Unfortunately, though, the friars are suspicious of such endeavors, so Ibarra must convince them that…

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One of the primary ways characters in Noli Me Tangere are disempowered is through isolation: political isolation, religious isolation, or intellectual isolation. Politically, all of the characters are isolated from Spain, the governing body that controls the Philippines. While the friars take advantage of this remoteness, the townspeople suffer. Religiously, any character who disagrees with Catholic doctrine is isolated and labeled a heretic. This religious seclusion is often related to intellectual isolation, which characters like…

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