Jose Rizal wrote the first sections of his novel Noli Me Tangere in 1884 in Madrid, Spain when he was still studying medicine. Rizal continued with this novel in Paris, France after he finished his medicine course. Jose Rizal finished the last sections of the novel in Berlin, Germany. Rizal drew his inspiration in writing Noli Me Tangere from a book entitled Uncle Tom’s Cabin which was authored by Harriet Beacher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is about the life of Negro slaves under the hands of powerful white Americans. The book centered on the sufferings, maltreatment and hardships experienced by the Negro slaves and compared the sad plight of the slaves with the unfair treatment experienced by his countrymen under the Spanish rule.
Jose Rizal first thought of gathering the written experiences of his countrymen against the Spanish rule and compile it with his thoughts to complete the book but later changed his mind and wrote the book just by himself. Rizal also consulted his friend Dr. Ferdinand Blumentritt on the issues he tackled in the book and the need to write about those issues.
Touch Me Not
Noli Me Tangere is a Latin phrase that means “Touch Me Not.” This phrase is mentioned in the Bible in the book of St. John the Baptist.
Rizal described the state of the country under the Spaniards as a disgrace, which provided more hardships to the life of the Filipinos. The detailed story about the sufferings of his countrymen were meant to awaken the Filipinos to the truth that was adversely affecting the society and which had not been talked about by the people most probably due to fear with the ruling Spaniards.
Ibarra and Elias
The main character of Rizal’s epic novel is Crisostomo Ibarra, a lad who studied in Europe. Ibarra’s wish was to build a school to ensure the bright future of the youth of his hometown. Ibarra was helped by a pilot and farmer named Elias who opened the eyes of Crisostomo Ibarra to know more of his country and its present problems.
Kapitan Tiyago, Maria Clara and Padre Damaso
Also one of the most important characters of the novel was Kapitan Tiyago who was described as a businessman who hails from Binondo. He was the step father of Maria Clara who was the conservative girlfriend of Crisostomo Ibarra. Maria Clara is the lady who also hails from the town of San Diego and was a child borne out of an affair between the Dona Pia Alba and Padre Damaso. Padre Damaso is a Franciscan priest who served for a long time as the head priest of the town of San Diego. He was replaced by Padre Salvi who had a secret admiration for Maria Clara.
The other characters of Jose Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere are Sisa, Basilio, Crispin, Pilosopo Tasyo, Alperes, Dona Victorina, Dona Consolacion, Kapitan Basilio, Don Saturnino, Don Rafael Ibarra, Mang Pablo, Dona Pia, Lucas, Linares, Don Filipo, Tarsilo at Bruno, Kapitana Maria, Padre Sibyla, Albino, Tinyente Guevarra, Iday, Sinang, Victoria at Andeng.