Plays, Political Platforms

Dryden does display to the audience doubts and anxiety about the relationship between the foreign imperialists (catholic conquistadors) and the Aztec natives; if both nations join forces through the power of love, then the imperialist power will expand bigger and stronger; strengthening the expansion of Catholic ideology. As we discussed in class, plays performed in the theater became this sort of political platform in a form of entertainment. Thus the reason why he never ends the play that depicts the union of both Cortez and Cydaria, this would be a representation of overthrowing the Aztec power. This is because, in a traditional play, the unionization of lovers is a result of a happy ending, but in this case, a unionization between two foreign people does not have any significance towards the English people. Although, the union of the two and the thought of catholic expansion would be significant to the English people, as they would place themselves in the Aztec perspective, creating this fear of being conquered and converted to Catholicism.

When it comes to the circumstances of love, honor can be broken. This is a recurring theme within the play, where love proves to overtake the honor of characters such as Almería and Odmar. In act 4 scene 1 Almería claims revenge on Cortez for killing her brother, but while she is in the prison with him, finds herself unable to kill him “I cannot kill thee: fure thou bear’st some charm” (37). Instead, Almería falls in love with Cortez for his fearlessness from death and lets him live. Another place where love proves to be destructive of honor is on act 4 scene 3, when Odar realizes that he is the one that was hated by Alibech and turns his back on his own people by siding with the Spanish “sink empire, father perish, brother fall, revenge does more than recompense you all” (47). The conflict between love and honor does impose a fear of how it can change people’s honor. If English people are being divided by two opposing religions, Christianity and Catholicism, then they too can fall for the Spaniards imperialism.

-Enrique Ramos


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