A Prideful Fight for Freedom

In John Dryden’s, The Indian Emperour, the relationship between Cortez and Cydaria is always one step ahead of each other. They’re never on the same page because there are still politics between their love and though Cortez loves Cydaria, he’s not able to stop the war until it is too late. Even when the story is about to end, Cortez and Cydaria aren’t on the same page because she gets stabbed. This is definitely Dryden making a statement that the relationship between foreign imperialists and Aztec natives would never be a good one, it would never be reconciled. It is him at the end with death surrounding him. The fact that Cortez wasn’t able to stop the war long before figuring out his conflict between love and honor had a lot to do with the reason why he couldn’t end up having his happy ending which was to save both Cydaria and Moctezuma. However, there was the huge factor of pride that created most of the doubt in the plot of this play. Not expecting any less, Moctezuma was not able to accept that it would be Cortez, his enemy, to be the hero in his life after destroying everything, that his life would solely be dependent on him. He didn’t consider that having a grip of his freedom. I think there was a sense of foreshadowing when Moctezuma was being tortured and the priest asks him if he’s allowed to say where the gold could be found and Moctezuma’s alternative is for him to die.

That is why it doesn’t come as a shocker when Moctezuma kills himself instead of giving thanks to the person who’s responsible for starting it all in the first place. Moctezuma dies holding on to his statement of, “If either Death or Bondage I must choose,/I’ll keep my Freedom, through my life I lose.” I think this line is what determines the relationship between imperialists and Aztec natives because the reality is that it could never be tied to a happy ending. Theatre and politics also have a lot to do with this given that the result of this play was for Cortez to be left with nothing but nonetheless a huge win in his favor. The audience watching this play would probably be even more encouraged to see it as a justification for all the hierarchies and the treatment of those around them.


-Ruth Serrano

One thought on “A Prideful Fight for Freedom

  1. The regular discord that the main characters are constantly struggling with I agree is a intentional off set from Dryden. You make an interesting point, mentioning Moctezuma’s foreshadowing, I wish you could of expanded more. I think you could of explained how this torchering was not shocking for the audience compared to the idea of Cortez marrying Moctezuma’s daughter.
    -ashley Jackson


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