San Manuel Bueno, Martir was written back in 1930 and revolves around life of a clergy from Spain in Valverde De Lucerna, a village found near a lake. This essay is a discussion of the relationship between the author Miguel de Unamuno and his main character San Manuel Bueno Martir. The essay will highlight issues of faith in God and life after death. It will attempt to answer questions like, what kind of symbols Unamuno uses in San Manuel to talk about faith and doubts. The essay will also address questions like, Is Unamuno using his novel and the Character San Manuel to describe his fears and doubts? Are San Manuel and Unamuno in doubt or denial?
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The setting of the story is in itself symbolic in that the village of Valverde De Lucerna is placed near a lake which is said to have a city under it which ordinary human beings cannot see with their naked eyes. The village is seen representing spirit symbols and the city underneath is material things (Unamuno & Tovar p 12). The lake as used by the author represents faith in God which is superficial in nature. On the other hand, the mountain as used by the author can be described as a symbol tat represents faith which is very powerful. The setting was deliberately chosen by the author to aid in delivering his message using the priest in the Spanish town (Unamuno & Tovar p 14). When the shadow of the mountain is reflected on the water, it does not go beyond the water. This can be interpreted to mean that in a similar manner, the priest did not allow God's faith in him to go beyond his heart. The author uses Angela to shed more light on the reader in regard to what the priest looked at religion back in their village (Unamuno & Tovar p 16).
The author artistically uses Angela and her brother Lazarus to show the reader the height of the priest's loss of faith in God. As a confession from Angela, when she becomes a follower of the priest, she discovers that the priest held diverse views concerning God. This was not the case before. From the way Angela puts it, the priest was presenting himself in a different way outside but his inner faith was no longer there (Unamuno & Tovar p 22). The relationship between the author and the main character is seen as the same in the eyes of the reader. Unamuno portrays the life of a man with no faith as that of hopelessness, solitary and lonely. He explains that faith which comes from religion is just an illusion which the ordinary human being follows to find comfort in a world full of harshness. He does not see why people should believe in God yet he in not within their vicinity. By using the priest, Unamuno is speaking his mind and the faith he had in god. He appears to read from the same script with the main character (Unamuno & Tovar p 24).
Although the priest seems to have very little faith in God, he strictly follows the word of god in helping the poor in the society. His acts seem to amaze everybody as he follows the word of god whom she does not seem to have faith in. he is always helping the people in the village and he does not despise anybody who sacrifices to help the poor. It is ironic how the people of the town refer to him as the saint, yet there is no faith left in him (Unamuno & Tovar p 29).
The author uses the death of Lazarus' mother in a symbolic way. When she is just about to die, her mother requests him to follow the religion of the priest. She believes that was the only way she could have his son have life after death. Lazarus, upon the death of her mother agrees to get converted (Unamuno & Tovar p 30). While talking to her sister, Lazarus reveals that, although he follows the priest, he does not believe in life after death. This heightens the fact that the priest does not have any faith in God. The author confessed that Lazarus was slowly following for the trap as he kept admiring the priest despite the fact that, he did opposite of what he preached and saw nothing wrong with that (Unamuno & Tovar p 32). He believed in the priest and was not ready to go back. The relationship of the author and what is happening in the book is indeed seen. This can be seen as away of the writer to justify his actions which he strongly holds onto. He does not believe in life after death but continues to do the right thing. He uses Lazarus to expose his belief (Unamuno & Tovar p 33).
It is ironic how Manuel strongly holds that religion and spreading the word of God is the only way out for individuals to have a contented life yet he does not have faith in the word. This brings a lot of confusion to people like Lazarus. In fact Manuel is denying faith in God yet he knows God is there (Unamuno et al p 50). This indeed raises a lot of doubts in the mind of the reader and other characters. This can also be seen as a way of the reader to declare his stand on his faith in God. Angela is used by the author to symbolically, represent the category of people who cannot change their mind on what they strongly believe in. this sis witnessed when she disagrees with her brother on whether there is life after death. She is portrayed as a principled character in that, although she admired the work of the priest, she did not allow his faith to take better part of her (Unamuno et al p 53).
Manuel is indeed in denial of what he knows is the right thing yet he opts to go for something different. The fact that time seems to eat on his health and faith is what he has to pay for his stubborn nature. He finds things very difficult and the going unbearable due to his teachings of life after death which he does not seem to believe in. depression continues to get better part of the priest and the people in the village thinks that Christ is really working in him (Unamuno et al p 55). Upon his demise, the people in the village regard him as their next Christ. Manuel died denying faith in God yet doing the right thing in the eyes of the people who did not seem to understand him. They only saw Christ in him when alive and even after he met his death. This is satirical in nature. The relationship of the author and the main character can be seen as Unamuno met his death while still denying having any faith in Christ (Unamuno et al p 57).
In conclusion, when the story comes to an end, Lazarus seems not to change his mind on his faith and continues denying that there is life after death. The author artistically criticizes the actions of various characters by stage managing their death one after the other and Angela is left standing (Unamuno et al p 59). Lazarus appears the last person to meet his death after he takes Manuel's responsibility. It is ironic how he carried on with the gospel even after witnessing the miserable death of his fellow priest (Unamuno et al p 64). This is further meant to heighten on the level of denial portrayed by the author. It can be seen by the reader as a way of the author speaking his mind (Unamuno et al p 67).
The writer passes a very important message to the reader that anyone trying to go against the supernatural powers is severely punished through death. This is exactly what happens to the priest when he goes against the faith of God (Unamuno et al p 69). Before he meets his unfortunate death which come a result of denial of his faith in God, the priest undergoes a lot of suffering. This might have been deliberately brought by the writer to portray the punishment as result of being defiant (Unamuno et al p 70).
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