The Celestina and Lazarillo de Tormes, books written at the outset of Spain's golden age, are extremely important works. The Celestina is a love story, while Lazarillo de Tormes is one of the first picaresque novels. Despite this major difference, they are similar in that they are both critiques of Spanish society. Spain is shown to be a highly static and stratified society. The nobility had the vast majority of both wealth and power while the underclass had almost no power, living largely at subsistence level, and struggling to survive. For those not born into the nobility, there was little hope of advancement. Of paramount importance in this society were Christianity, the state religion, and, in the case of the nobles, honor. In The Celestina, the social critique focuses on the relationship between nobility and servants, while in Lazarillo de Tormes, the focus is on Lázaro as he tries to survive in Spanish society
[...] During their reign, Ferdinand and Isabella conquered Granada, expelled the Jews, and began the Spanish Inquisition. By the 1580s, religious deviation within Spain had been successfully stifled”. Christianity is very important in the society of The Celestina. The characters have faith that God will help them, regardless of their station in life. When Lucrecia goes to visit her sick sister, Celestina says the grace of God be with Celestina credits the devil with her ability to corrupt Melibea. Sempronio believes that God has caused Calisto's love, and says that Calisto is blaspheming when Calisto cries over Melibea The influence of Christianity created a society where, for the nobility, virginity became an all-important virtue. [...]
[...] Celestina and the servants live vastly different lives from Calisto and Melibea. Parmeno and Sempronio, as the servants of Calisto, live in poverty and have very little control over their lives. They cannot control the duties they are expected to perform and do not have control over their hours. Elicia, Sempronio's lover, once remarks that it is miracle” that she sees him twice in the same day, a condition explained by Sempronio's near-constant presence at Calisto's house. The servants of the nobility had very little freedom, and were expected to do their bidding at any moment. [...]
[...] The Celestina and Lazarillo de Tormes are both quite critical of Spanish society. Both exemplify the hardship of life for those of the lower-class. In The Celestina, the women are prostitutes, while the men are servants who work extreme hours. In Lazarillo de Tormes, Lázaro goes through unending hunger at the mercy of his masters, who are not always stuffing themselves either. In both cases, the servants have very little control over their destinies. However, this subservience does not translate into respect or loyalty to their masters. [...]
[...] In many ways, Lazarillo de Tormes is a more critical view of Spanish society than The Celestina. Lázaro's masters completely mistreat him, far worse than anything Calisto does to his servants. Christian values, although frequently mentioned in both stories, are generally ignored when it is suitable or profitable to do so. Lazarillo de Tormes is very critical of the clergy, painting them as greedy and indolent. The Celestina deals more with the relationship between the nobility and the underclass, as well as the relations between different members of the nobility. [...]
[...] Lazarillo de Tormes is especially critical of the clergy. After escaping the service of the blind man, Lázaro moves on to become the servant of a priest. While the priest preaches the virtues of self denial, Lázaro describes him as someone who like a wolf” and “drank like a drayman” at the expense of others. Lázaro steals food from the priest to satisfy his hunger, and when he is eventually found out, the priest beats him so severely that he is unconscious for days, and throws him out. [...]
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