What view of society and of the church emerges from Lazarillo de Tormes?

Essay by mrcus38University, Bachelor'sB-, April 2004

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Towards the end of the 15th century, the general public was becoming increasingly literate and books more readily available due to cheap printing. Although the normal reading tendencies leaned toward history, biographies and travel books, there is a sign that an interest was emerging in a more realistic presentation of society and its problems. Not surprisingly, when Lazarillo de Tormes was written, albeit anonymously, it was a popular book with reprintings, additions of extra parts and even other editions. The picaresque figure, which featured in this slapstick comedy, intertwined with a number of themes ranging from hypocrisy, deceit, religious satire, poverty and hunger through to corruption, fortune and honour. Whether it represented an accurate account of society at that time, or was rather a "technique of selective exaggeration" is questionable, nevertheless its popularity was due to the fact that the people could relate to the story and its themes, whilst laughing aloud at Lazarillo's accounts of misfortune and conniving.

With this essay I will examine the individuals of the novel, group them into classes from the poverty stricken to the Aristocrats, and give examples of their behaviour, therefore highlighting how society appears riddled with deceit and corruption, although to give every example would be impossible as the story is riddled with nuances and puns.

At the very beginning of the novel, included in the prologue, we see already here that Lazarillo has given us his parameters of society and religion. He speaks of the soldier-who is risking his life for real honour, and the theology student and the knight- who prefer "parecer" to "ser". We have presented to us a range of people which spans the social scale. There is the soldier at the bottom rung of society, the student in the middle and then at the top we have...