Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler Sixteenth Century Spain was a time where the citizens had to do whatever was necessary to survive. The story of two young men in Michael Alpert’s interpretation of Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler brings truth to the sacrifices one went through to survive. The works of the Two Spanish Picaresque novels allow you to live through the trials and tribulations of two young men, one from Salamanca and the other from Segovia, who use comical and clever tactics to outsmart their masters.
The mindset of Spaniards being honorable, truthful, religious, are all discounted in the travels of the young picaros. The adventures of these young men will prove the point that not all Spaniards lived by this motto in such a way that you will not put the book down until you find what the next day will bring to their crazy lives. The common theme of 16th century Spain was religion. The journeys of both picaros reemphasize this theme. Through the novels you find both young men looking towards prayer to help them survive.
The false impressions of being holy men allowed them to win the trust of all who encountered them. Society during 16th Century Spain had such a strong devotion to faith that the young men could easily use this to manipulate individuals to provide them food and money to survive. Ultimately, the picaros are honor seeking individuals looking to better themselves during a difficult time in the century. The laws in Spain were imprisoning beggars and criminals, so the challenges they encountered were more daring than ever.
However, their wittiness and conniving ways keep them moving ever so closer to their goal. The ability for them to continue and outwit their masters day to day gives them the confidence of noble Spaniards. Their motivation and drive keep them pushing the envelope of being criminals or men of high status. It was through the actions of their masters that they learned that in Spain the leaders were as immoral as the common man.
The thievery, prostitution, and search for individual self gratification, at what ever cost, discounts the perception that those in positions of leadership were honorable individuals. You have two young men who lived the life of what was taught to them by their masters. All of which were to be perceived as men of God. However, what was proven by their actions was more of men who did what ever it took to survive. Which meant most of the time it revolved around the most predominate theme of the century, Religion!