Is Lazarillo de Tormes a Subversive Text?

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  • Topic: Spanish Inquisition, Lazarillo de Tormes, Spain
  • Pages : 3 (1477 words )
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  • Published : May 27, 2013
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Is Lazarillo de Tormes a subversive text? Illustrate your answer with examples.

In this essay I am going to discuss whether or not we can consider Lazarillo de Tormes as a subversive text and the reasons behind why or why not we may believe it to be so. To accomplish this, I will explore the background behind Lazarillo, the different methods and literary devices used to convey dual meaning and give the text an undertone of subversion. The word ‘subversion’ is defined as “a systematic attempt to undermine, overthrow or cause the destruction of an established or legally constituted government or political system.” 1 Lazarillo de Tormes is thought to have been written during 16th century Spain, a time of oppression and exploitation of the lower classes, when survival would often only be rewarded to the most cunning, the slyest and the sharpest of people. In this age, the church reigned, the Spanish Inquisition enforcing the morals and ideals of the Catholic church under the jurisdiction of the Castille-Aragón monarchy. Lazarillo is often accredited as being the basis for the first modern novel and although some may assert that it was written solely with the intention of being a humorous book, I will argue that it is a perfect example of a subversive text. Though oblique, it maintains characteristics stereotypical of subversive literature; such as the use of parody and euphemism to demean the authority of recognised figures 2; in the case of Lazarillo, the church and aristocracy; and the use of self-denunciation as a rhetorical device to allow the anonymous author to subtly manipulate the audience. The content itself is controversial in the way that it shows the less appreciated sides of humanity and illustrates the instability of society and the frivolity of humanity on a whole 3, all the while openly criticizing the church and the notion of honour throughout the ranks of Spanish nobility. Another characteristic of subversive literature is the integration of...
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