Synopsis of Noli

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  • Topic: Philippines, Noli Me Tangere, Philippine Revolution
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  • Published : March 24, 2011
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Noli Me Tangere is a Spanish-language novel by Filipino writer and national hero José Rizal, first published in 1887 in Berlin. The novel is commonly referred to by its shortened name Noli; the English translation was originally titled The Social Cancer, although recent publications have retained the original Latin. The literal translation of the title is touch me not. Rizal derived this phrase from the Bible, specifically the Gospel of St. John 20:13-17, which describes how lepers were made to wear signs bearing these words to warn passers-by of their condition. "Touch me not" were also the warning words spoken by Jesus to Mary Magdalene upon rising from the dead. In the Gospel of John, Jesus uttered this because he has not accomplished his mission (after rising from the dead, he must ascend to heaven to see God the Father) and hence, cannot be touched. French writer D. Blumentritt says that "Noli me tangere" is in fact the professional nickname used by ophthalmologists such as Rizal himself for cancer of the eyelids. Within the plot are episodes and images, which may not have improved the unity and sequence of the story, but effectively carry out Rizal's purposes in writing it. The scene in the cockpit sarcastically portrays the humiliating effects of the Filipinos' passion for gambling. The vivid All Soul's Day dialogue of the Tertiaries on the gaining of indulgence is a condemnation of fanaticism and superstition. The fiesta sermon of Father Dámaso eloquently protests against the alleged hypocrisies and tyranny of the friars. In these episodes perhaps, rather than in the novel as a whole, lie the book’s powers. The ultimate message is not always clearly spelled out, but the abuses and defects of the colonial regime are explicitly revealed. The discussions of Elias and Ibarra disclose possible solutions, and though Rizal is against a bloody revolution, he states that it...
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