Elias is probably the most unique personality in Rizal’s Noli, much more than Ibarra. He personifies all the virtues of the villager — gratitude, abnegation, sacrifice and devotion to country. He was created with the love and devotion of Rizal. His past, forged from ignominies is horrible. Elias vindicates the ignorant, vicious, lazy and egoistic Filipinos that abound in the novel. Although his education is minimal, the injustices that has befallen his family have enlarged and sharpened his intellect and made him hate the social conditions around him. But unlike many who distrust but do nothing to improve their condition, he was an optimist. He trusts in Ibarra, in God, in the government of the islands, almost all except the civil guards and the friars. He hates and punishes the wicked. He pities and joins those persecuted by the authorities. In short, he is a restless, free spirit who suffered much from the malice and iniquity of men but nevertheless does not seek reparation or vengeance. Instead, with a kind of piety and mysticism seeks to put into play all possible human resources to prevent any increase in the number of criminals and unhappy persons victimized by social injustices and prejudices.
Was Elias merely a fictional character or was he based in part on the personality of Rizal himself? The majority of the characters of Noli are obviously sketches and character types. But Elias surpasses them by his spiritual traits, his contrasts of light and shade, his dramatic surroundings which may draw one to conclude he is not a character taken out of reality but rather an allegorical creation. It is also quite possible that Elias was a real person who lived, thought and suffered like many Filipinos of his time.
The theme of Noli is that there are men in the Philippines, same as those who exist in other parts of the world, with the same longings and passions, loves and prejudices, vices and virtues, that have been formed by a defective education that recognizes in them only the imitative and atrophied virtues of the lower animals. The theme of the Noli is that there is no difference between the distinct social strata of the Filipinos and those of other countries, that what makes the Filipinos appear of limited intelligence is the effect of the education he receives. The theme of the Noli is that although Filipinos have some vices and defects, the same with other peoples of the world, they are not those which the Spanish writers attribute to them — that there is no stimulus to worth or to merit. On the contrary, when Filipinos rise above the heap they are ridiculed and made the object of mockery unless they serve the friars. Many Filipinos are persecuted or implicated in false conspiracies or exiled from their towns for standing up for their rights.
The novel shows that the friars have made of the Catholic religion an instrument of domination and have prostituted it with exterior practices which foster the appearance of worship. It shows that the civil guards do not protect the citizens but protects the interests of the friars and the Spaniards. The novel shows how some Filipinos, contaminated by the airs of superiority of the Spaniards, despise their own countrymen and make themselves ridiculous with their pretensions at false imitation. Rizal tried to show that there was no rebellion/revolution in the Philippines, but that there would be, if the abuses and excesses of the friars and the administration pushes the Filipinos to their limit.
These are the conclusions, more or less general, that are deduced from the pages of Noli. With reason, Rizal could justifiably say in his prologue that he has tried “to reproduce the condition of the country faithfully and fearlessly and has raised part of the veil that hides the evil, sacrificing