Cortez the Doubly Blessed (possibly)

At the very end of Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour,” Cortez thanks God for his pair of blessings, saying “while I loud thanks pay to the Powers above, thus doubly blessed with conquest, and with love” (68). This is the very last line of the play proper, before the epilogue, and with that in consideration, this line must be taken into special consideration.

Given the Restoration theater’s focus on “seeing and being seen,” as well as its status as a social event, it is entirely within the scope of reason to assert that for the most part, playgoers would not be incredibly focused on deep, contextual analysis of the play itself. However, the last lines could ingrain themselves in a viewer’s brain, and must function as a summary for the central themes of the play.

Thus, with the final line possibly serving as a summary of theme, one is drawn to the phrase “doubly blessed.” Dryden is showing that love and conquest are irreconcilable, as they are seen as two different gifts. Cortez believes he has both, and yet the question remains: why then does the play not end with him running off into the sunset with Cydaria? Why does the play end, instead, with a praising of God, and a promise of a grand funeral?

A possible answer to this question comes earlier, where Cydaria herself says “death only stands between me and happiness” (66). Here, perhaps, the implication is such that maybe Cydaria does not want to rush off with Cortez. She wants death instead. Thus comes the answer: Cydaria does not love Cortez, specifically, Cydaria does not love this conqueror.

Cortez is not “doubly blessed.” Cortez has won only conquest. Therefore, the final question remains: was Dryden’s intent here to show to vast difference between conquest and love, and by association honor and love? Then, by extension, the question becomes “is there really love anymore, in this age of conquest?” 

-Ross Koppel

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One thought on “Cortez the Doubly Blessed (possibly)

  1. I think the original idea in this post is how you try to examine what Cortez means when he states he is doubly blessed. Perhaps the “love” he is thankful for is not for a woman, but both love and conquest for his country are for the same thing- claiming honor for his homeland. I think this post surfaces good questions, but to improve I think it would have been good to maybe add a deeper analysis. Instead of asking what they could mean, you could be the one answering that question.

    Extra Credit 5/5/2017

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