Is Lazarillo de Tormes a Subversive Text?

1467 words 6 pages
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
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We can confirm this when he goes on to mention how he couldn’t put up with the Friar’s “trote” 6 any longer. This is also supported by short, curt and ambiguous manner in which he speaks of his time with the Friar and sheds light on what kind of ‘small things’ he might have been referring to when saying; “y por otras cosillas que no digo,” 7. This euphemism is not merely subverting the Friar, but the whole of the convent, as he uses them as an example in comparison; “más[…]que todo el convento.” 8, therefore implying that the participation in such activities was not an uncommon thing.
Another subversive device used by the anonymous author, is the use of self-denunciation as a tool to humble himself in the prologue of the novella. “que confesando yo no ser más santo que mis vecinos, de esta nonada, que en este grosero estilo escribo,” 9 In this excerpt, Lázaro uses a technique called ‘captatio benevolentiale’ (lit. 'capture the benevolence of your audience')10 to make himself seem modest in his writing. He describes himself as not being of holy character, his writing style as being 'grosero’ and his actual writing as being a “little bit of nothingness”. This is the beginning of a string of rhetoric that will subvert the audience into pitying him for his misfortune and forgiving his

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