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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Essay on Lazarillo de Tormes

1.  Provide a short summary of the plot .
2.  Tell me what are the salient themes of the literary work.
3.  Analyze two or three of these themes and explain how do they reflect the culture, values, politics, social and economic structures of early modern Spain. You are using these texts as primary sources.
What do they tell you about the history of Spain?

Essay on Lazarillo de Tormes 
The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities: An Analysis

Plot Summary
The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes is one of the most famous Spanish literary works. It is a picaresque novel written in the first person style. It is written in autobiographical form structured as a letter wherein  the narrator’s tells the story about his life from its birth, his miserable childhood up until his adult and married years (“Lazarillo de Tormes Summary”). Lazaro is a boy who came from a poor family and was born in the Thormes river in Salamanca. After his father died, he was put into serving a cunning blind man. This blind man taught Lazaro all the arts of deception that he later on made use in almost all his new situations and masters. He then evolved from  na├»ve young boy into a cunning man with plenty of survival instinct. Throughout the book, he tells his generally not pleasant and painful experiences with his various masters which include a priest, a squire, a friar, a pardoner, a chaplain and a bailiff. In the different chapters of the book he tells his story of working for each masters. Overall, the story talks about his adventures, misfortunes, tricks and deceits because of his struggle for survival in both amusing and painful ways.

Salient Themes
            As a picaresque novel, The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities is a story that delves on a highly satirical portrayal of society and real life that focus on the lives of the lower classes. It is a story featured in a slapstick comedy that deals with numbers of intertwined themes that range from religious satire, deceit, hypocrisy, corruption, poverty and hunger, fortune and honor, suffering vs redemption, loss of innocence, mastery and slavery and profit versus morality. As a story with any underlying themes, the story function as a framework through which the sixteenth century Spanish society is put under examination. The different experiences of Lazaro with his various masters provided the readers a glimpse on the different positions and levels of class in the Spanish 16th century society. It also revealed the reality of power relations and social structures during that era.

Analysis of Two Prominent Themes
            Two of the main themes of the story revolves upon the revelations and reflections of the segments of Spanish society during the 16th century and the diverse social classes and the problems and challenges posed by the corrupt society. Throughout the narration of the author and as he presented the different kinds of master he served, their positions and social status, the readers will be able to understand the different segments of society. The book was able to clearly present the power play between the masters and the slave. The dichotomy of the Spanish society during that 15th century era is characterized by the clear distinction of the haves and the have- nots. Those who belong in the lower classes including the beggars and the servants were portrayed as people struggling so hard in order to survive. They struggled everyday just to meet their basic needs such as food. On the other hand the affluent ones including the masters exploit and starves their servants while they were indulging in luxury and capricious things. 

            The rampant corruption and the problems and challenges that it posed during that era was also clearly depicted in the story. The marginalized people of Spain endured a very corrupt society during the 16th century (Cristofaro 15). The social and economic implications of the poverty were very evident in the picture of everyday streets and the interactions among the many poor citizens. Hunger is everywhere while the corrupt clergy and politicians enjoy the perks of their authority and power. The inflation during that time was very enormous, beggars were everywhere while the clergymen and other affluent people remained undisturbed and calm while they continue with their corrupt acts.


Cristofaro, Paul. Lazarillo de Tormes" and Moral Disposition: Examining Ethical Values Through the Lens of 18th-century Moral Philosophers. Alabama: The Univerity of Alabama.

Lazarillo de Tormes: Summary. Spain then and now. 2009. Web. 30 Jun 2013

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