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Spanish literature: The Celestina and Lazarillo de Tormes

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The Celestina: Tragic love story of Calisto and Melibea.
  3. Virginity for women as a virtue in Christianity.
  4. The influence of Christianity.
  5. The servants of the nobility.
  6. Lazarillo de Tormes: A novel about Lazaro.
  7. The religion of Spanish society.
  8. The Celestina, Lazarillo de Tormes and the Spanish society.
  9. Conclusion.
  10. Bibliography.

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[3]. By the 1580s, religious deviation within Spain had been successfully stifled?[4]. 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[6]. 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[12]. The servants of the nobility had very little freedom, and were expected to do their bidding at any moment. [...]

[...] In the end, it is the pressures of Spanish society, whether it is the greed of Celestina and the desperation of Sempronio and Parmeno, or the desire of Melibea contrasted with the rigid noble hierarchy, that cause the tragic deaths of nearly all involved in the story. Lazarillo de Tormes is a picaresque novel about Lázaro, a boy traveling from master to master. Similar to The Celestina, it is a critique of Spanish society, this time from the point of view of one of the lowest members of society. [...]

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