Noli Me Tangere

Noli Me Tangere Metaphors and Similes

A jolt of electricity (simile)

"The news surged like a jolt of electricity among the parasites, spongers, and freeloaders that God, in his infinite goodness, has so lovingly multiplied in Manila" (p. 5).

In the above simile, Rizal compares the news of Captain Tiago's dinner party spreading to a current of electricity. Just as a jolt of electricity travels almost instantaneously, the news spreads rapidly throughout the area surrounding Manila.

Reeling like a drunkard (simile)

"The coach rolls on, reeling like a drunkard on the rough terrain" (p. 56).

Here, Rizal compares the coach Ibarra is riding in to a drunkard who moves clumsily after a long night of intoxication. The simile is particularly apt since Ibarra is returning from a party where there was plenty of drinking, and like the coach is still "reeling" from the events of the night.

Like an automaton with a broken motor (simile)

"Like an automaton with a broken motor, [Sisa] turned quickly on her heels, and without seeing a thing, ran to hide" (p. 131).

This simile likens Sisa, the mother of the missing boys, to an automaton (a mechanical device that resembles a human) with a broken motor moving in a strange, useless pattern. Like the automaton, Sisa feels broken inside because of the loss of her sons, and she is now only able to move mechanically rather than in a more lively way. Furthermore, Sisa is losing her mind, further likening her to an automaton that resembles a person but cannot think like one.

Like a tree shorn of its limbs (simile)

"But now I'm like a tree shorn of its limbs, a wandering fugitive, hunted like a wild animal in the forest..." (p. 298).

In this simile, Captain Pablo compares himself to a tree without limbs, a fugitive condemned to walk the world, and a wild animal fleeing hunters. Because he was victimized by wealthier and more powerful men, Pablo has lost his purpose in life and must constantly travel to evade pursuit. Though he is not the cause of his misfortune, he feels like a fugitive, alluding to Elías's point that corruption often turns good people into criminals.

Lightning striking a tree (metaphor)

"Once misfortunate leaves its mark on a family, all its members have to perish. When lightning strikes a tree, the entire thing is reduced to ashes" (p. 274).

Elías utters this statement to Ibarra, suggesting that one misfortune can devastate an entire family, just as one lightning strike can destroy a whole tree. Yet in the novel, this idea proves false: Ibarra and Elías both lead impactful, if not happy, lives despite their family's misfortunes.