Religion, Greek Tragedy, And Heroism Essay

Religion, Greek Tragedy, And Heroism Essay

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Religion, Greek Tragedy, and Heroism:
An analysis of Miguel de Unamuno & San Manuel Bueno, Martyr:
In Miguel de Unamuno’s novella San Manuel Bueno, Martyr, readers learn about the life of Don Manuel, a Catholic priest secretly holding atheist beliefs and doubts in the afterlife. Despite these disbeliefs, Don Manuel works tirelessly to help his community and is regarded as a saint by all who meet him, hence the handle “San Manuel,” which literally translates to “Saint Manuel.” Don Manuel’s struggle and affiliation with sainthood receives further analysis and context from Francisco LaRubia-Prado, who parallels Unamuno’s novella to elements of Greek Tragedy and heroism. Drawing from Unamuno’s background with Ancient Greek playwriting and Sigmund Freud’s Totem and Taboo, LaRubia-Prado argues that Don Manuel should be seen as a representation of Christ and must suffer in silence in order to play the role of the dying, tragic hero that saves the villagers or in the case of Greek Tragedy, the chorus. However, despite San Manuel Bueno, Martyr’s many similarities to elements of Greek Tragedy, one should also look at the novella beyond its relationship to tragedy and heroism to more fully explore Unamuno’s intentions for the story. In order to do this, it is necessary to first explore Greek Tragedy and its relationship to the novella, later noting Unamuno’s background and other philosophical and literary works as they pertain to the San Manuel Bueno, Martyr.
To fully discuss Don Manuel as a tragic heroic, one must first understand the purpose and elements of Greek Tragedy. As a branch of Ancient Greek drama, tragedies dealt with many themes; e.g., “love, loss, pride, and the abuse of power and the fraught relationships between men and gods....


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...rks by Unamuno. For example, an epistemology by Unamuno shows that Unamuno was a fierce supporter of spiritual knowledge over scientific knowledge. Spiritual knowledge, in this case, being “knowledge at the service of emotion, passion, faith, and that which helps to nurture the belief in immortality” (Igbafen). If San Manuel Bueno, Martyr is viewed in this context, it seems less likely that Unamuno was simply using Greek Tragedy to portray Don Manuel as a Christ-like hero that must die to redeem the villagers. That is, Unamuno placed a high regard on emotions and the purpose of life, suggesting he was using Don Manuel to explore these questions. Yes, the themes of Greek Tragedy are heavily present in the work, but I think that is because Greek Tragedy explores many of the same themes that interest Unamuno rather than as a result of his background in Greek studies.



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