The False Dons in Lazarillo de Tormes

On February 2, 2014 by Harper

lazarillodetormes1The title “Don” is meant to be an honorific title signifying some type of nobility, and was most commonly used in medieval Spanish times.  In “Lazarillo de Tormes”, we encounter an orphan-like, poverty-stricken main character who throughout the whole story strives to achieve some form of don-status, but who is unfortunately surrounded by other figures in the piece who give a terrible example of what a Don should really be like.  One main example of this “False Don” was the Squire in Chapter 3.

Though the squire dresses in a regal cape, dons a gleaming, expensive looking sword, and hails from “Old Castille” (which signifies old-money christian families”, the reader comes to discover that he is really no more of a Don than our own Lazarillo, instead holding the lowly title of “hidalgo”, or, “son of something”.  Just like Lazarillo, the Squire has come to the city to find a master, only to fail and end up hungry again.   Though he puts on heirs and makes it seem as though he is always well fed (consider the toothpick he uses every morning) he is just as starving as the poor Lazarillo, who must take to begging and taking alms to feed himself and master.  And finally, towards the end of the chapter, in a very unchivalrous turn of events, the Squire ditches town (and his aide Lazarillo) when it is discovered that he has been squatting rent-free on someone else’s property.

There are characters in other chapters of “Lazarillo” that also exemplify these “False Don” traits (e.g.  The Pardoner or the Priest), yet none so much as the Squire who’s false veneer of chivalry and honor is quickly seen-through by young Lazarillo.