Simoun is the infamous wealthy jeweler and main character in Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo . He is often referred to as the Brown Cardinal as his influence over the Captain-General is undeniable. He is, in fact, Juan Crisostomo Ibarra (of Noli Me Tangere) who returned to the country after thirteen years.
Simoun is described in the novel as a tall, dark man with white hair and a thin black beard. He wears European clothing and huge blue sunglasses which covered his eyes and part of his cheeks. He spoke with a peculiar accent – a strange mix of English and South American.
Simoun poses himself as a supporter of the Spaniards when, in fact, his mission in returning to the country is to get revenge from the injustice he received from the Spanish government. He is still in love with Maria Clara and initially wanted to start a revolution to get her out of the convent but, later on, learns about her death.
Role in the novel
Simoun is the filibustero (rebel) in the novel; he encourages the upper class to abuse the masses so that the poor would be driven to revolt against them and the government. The sufferings he experienced in the past drove him to plan a conspiracy against the Spanish government which he was pretending to support.
Simoun’s true identity is discovered by Basilio in Chapter 7 when the latter visited the grave of Sisa, his mother, in the woods on Christmas Eve. It must be remembered that in Noli Me Tangere, Elias instructed Basilio to dig the treasure buried near the balete tree should nobody come and get it. He was told to use it for his schooling but he was not able to dig the treasure.
For the first time, Basilio saw Simoun without the blue sunglasses covering his eyes and his true identity is revealed. Basilio remembers that it is the same man who helped him bury his mother 13 years ago. Unable to deny Basilio’s discovery, Simoun explains how he became to be the wealthy jeweler he is and how he uses his gold to encourage greed and abuse of authority among the rich. He says he does this to have the masses clamor for a revolution.
Simoun also informs Basilio of his disgust about the students’ plans of putting up a Spanish academy for Filipinos. He further warns the lad that Hispanization will only deprive the country of liberty like the Spanish colonies in South America. Basilio, however, believes that speaking the same language can unite the whole country.
Fired with the desire for revenge, Simoun plots to plant a bomb disguised as a lamp during the reception of Paulita Gomez and Juanito Pelaez’ wedding where important people of society will be attending. Isagani, who was still in love with his former girlfriend Paulita, foils the plan by throwing the lamp into the river. It was Basilio who told Isagani of Simoun’s plan.
Knowing that he will be arrested not soon after, Simoun poisoned himself and dies after confessing everything to Padre Florentino.
Simoun represents the revolutionaries during that time who supported the idea of holding bloody revolt against the Spanish government. His death in El Filibusterismo tells readers that Rizal does not support the armed revolution. The author has also made this clear through the scene where Padre Florentino, after Simoun’s death, threw his remaining jewels to the Pacific Ocean so it may no longer be used for bribery and corruption that can spark a revolt.
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- El Filibusterismo/The Reign of Greed: Charles Derbyshire English translation. Filipiniana.net. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
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- El Filibusterismo: Mga Tauhan. JoseRizal.ph. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- The Characters (The Summary of “El Filibusterismo”). KapitBisig.com. (Accessed 7 June 2011).
- El Filibusterismo Chapter Summary. (Accessed 7 June 2011).