Not So Different After All

Cross cultured, cross-linguistic, and cross-religion exchanges between Mary  Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors contradicts the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America because of how her transition from hating indigenous people to sympathizing with them. In the beginning of her narrative, Rowlandson describes her people, who were Christian, as “sheep” to suggest them as innocent and as God chosen people. Whereas, Rowlandson describes the Native Americans as “wolves” and “hell-hounds” to convey them as heartless, predatory, and demonic creature. It isn’t until she gets captured by the Native Americans and starts traveling with them that Rowlandson starts to question her view on the natives, Rowlandson states, “I cannot but notice the strange providence of God in preserving the heathen: They were many hundreds, old and young, some sick, and some lame, many had Papooses at their backs, the greatest number at this time with us, were Squaws, and they travelled with all they had, bag and baggage, and yet they got over the River […] On that very day came the English Army after them to this River […] and yet this River put a stop to them”(Rowlandson, 15). Rowlandson relieves that the natives and colonist aren’t so different from one another as she perceived them to be. The natives wear the colonist clothes and pray to their gods for help/guidance, which later she begins to adapt to the lifestyle of the natives. Rowlandson learns that there is a reason why god protects both the natives and colonists alike.

In “The Indian Emperour”, Dryden depicts a similar situation as Cortez love for Cydaria was enough to change Cortez as a vicious prideful conquistador to a more humble wiser one, which in the end of the story Cortez relieved how the natives and conquistadors weren’t that different from each other. In the blog post called “A City upon Intolerance and Genocide”, Thomas Pham refers to a puritan women known as Anne Hutchison who believed people should look into one’s own intuition to find salvation as opposed to following the guidelines of the Christian institution, which angered John Winthrop. During 1637 she was put on trial, that was presided by Winthrop, Hutchinson said, “You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm…Therefore take heed how you proceed against me—for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state” (Pham, 2). This belief I think grew on Rowlandson in the form of saying people are entitled to believe on whatever they want including the natives. The natives don’t have to follow the culture, linguistic, and religion of the colonist since they are cable of following whatever they want just the colonist.

-Roger Ortiz

over the ocean

About a decade or more after the Spanish colonized South America, Pocahontas died when she went to England. Her relationship lasted for a short amount of time contrary to the social division, mostly as a result of travel.  Dryden in his own way knew that a marriage between Cortez and Cydaria would be too mystic and fake for his already stretching story. Arguably Dryden had a limited imagination but I would argue he only used the normal tools of realism to make this story. Even his own English audience would not be totally swept away by this pretty romance, so much would feel out of place. Instead of creating a streamlined story for his readers he gave them a story of more probability.


love stretch forth thy hand

A Wrist of gold bangles

And Brown ankles

I only see you

Reach for me as I reach for you


Through the mist I see a cave

Deep True and blue

Truth we can thrive if we dive

But never surface

For on the surface there is no Hope


Love travels in pairs

Dry Air lacks those pairs

Above this surface

There only dwells despair

For if we were to breath

I would lose the lovely heir


Why they when we

Together, us is trust

Apart, is only lust

For I must have us


-Ashley Jackson

Imperialism and Intersectionality

The Indian Emperor by John Dryden is a imperialist propaganda play, that illustrates the unsanctioned romance between a male Spanish conquistador and a female Aztec. Their relationship demonstrates the romanticized love between two inconceivable characters; yet, despite their requited love, Dryden does not allow them to be unionized in matrimony. I believe Dryden’s decision illustrates the influence of imperialism during the Restoration theater. The political environment would not be sanction if Dryden permitted their relationship with matrimony because their is an imbalance, Cydaria is inferior to Cortez.

The love trope between two people of different status is a popular, literary conflict. Cortez and Cydaria’s relationship is perforated with power imbalances. Cydaria endures the intersectionality of her gender, race. She is inferior to Cortez because she is a women and an Aztec. This intersectionality arises from the imperialism of Europe.

Complications and Conflicts

By; Carmen Ibarra

Although Dryden did not explicitly bring Cydaria and Cortez together, he allowed them to love each other equally. As Cortez continuously attempts to save Cydaria we realize the love between the two is real. However, by Dryden never allowing the two to become married or even be together, I feel like Dryden is neither portraying to his audience doubts or anxieties about the relationship between the foreign imperialist, but rather showing that if the two were to come together this would only cause a clash between the two worlds, not only religious beliefs but also the way each individual lives their daily lives. In fact, Living in an extremely religious Hispanic household I continuously get told by my parents and family members to “Stick to my own race and religion” I could never agree with this. I do however understand where my parents are coming from, being in a relationship with someone who has different morals and beliefs will most likely cause conflicts within the relationship. To add to that we also notice in the picture shown in class that the audiences main focus was toward the stage and the right side of the audience. Right away we also notice the separation of social classes, the people of a higher social class get seated in the better seats while those of  lower class are down at the bottom. To relate this back to what I was saying about Dryden not allowing Cydaria and Cortez to be in a relationship, this shows the conflicts of mixing two completely different worlds.

The Fake Reality of Restoration Theatre


The theatre has been home to many great stories of love, tragedy, and comedy. It has been around for years and will remain telling diverse stories to future generations. Dryden makes a conscious point to not marry and bring together Cydaria and Cortez in the end. While there is mention of love being shared, it was never brought to full unison as one expects it to be done in the theatre, especially for the time it was shown.

Restoration theatre was an interesting time for theatre as most of the plays, or at least the ones audience enjoyed more were comedies. Audiences did watch tragedies but not as much as they loved a happy ending. Romeo and Juliet, the play that was written by William Shakespeare, was given a different ending during the time of the restoration theatre, a happier ending.

Now knowing the background of how audiences enjoyed watching plays during the restoration theatre time, we can imagine why some audience might have somewhat of an issue with Cydaria and Cortez not marrying each other. However, Dryden might be making a point at why they don’t end together in unison. It shows the reality of people and their actions. While yes, they were in love, they could not be together as there are conflicting actions and thoughts from both characters. Was it meant to show that a foreign imperialist and an Aztec native could never be together? Not necessarily. I think it was more meant to show that these two specific characters could not, as to prove a point that their actions and background in the play led to the outcome. Their origins could have some effect on their unison but that is all up to reader-response criticism of readers and what they feel.

Overall, I felt like Dryden was trying to show people the reality of life and love in the fake reality of Restoration theatre. We can’t blame the restoration theatre because it was an interesting time where people wanted to feel happy and wanted to see luxury, lavishness, royals and overall have a grand time at the theatre. This play is almost everything opposite of what was just described and the romance that was rooted for didn’t end up together.

-Abe Alvarez

The British Imperialist: A Dream of the Future

In Dryden’s The Indian Emperor, the story of conquest is not the focal point of the play. The many elements, including love stories, competition, revenge, and suffering all interact with one another and make the story confusing to follow. However, these story elements are meant only to further present the British audience with the idea that when they begin to build their empire, it will be one of peace, honor, respect, and love. These attributes are presented in the character of Cortes. Despite his Spanish origins, Cortes is meant to represent England in the sympathy and respect he shows for Montezuma and the other indigenous characters in the play. The love between Cortes and the princess Cydaria transforms Cortes from a man concerned about his mission to one who despairs of the war he must wage. To find happiness, Cortes must watch many of his comrades and the innocent native people he came to convert die. While Cortes represents the peaceful and merciful imperialist ideals of the British people, his love with Cydaria does not mean that Dryden is supporting the intermixing of British and Native American people in matrimony. Conversely, this relationship, though romantic in the play, is meant to prove that many cultures can live together in peace, just as the British idealize for their own empire. Cortes and Cydaria do not get married because their role is not to challenge classist or racist tendencies that the European world at this time very much exhibited. To have this Spanish conquistador marry the Indian princess during the play would be repelling to the audience, not to mention scandalous outside of the theater. The character of Cortes is a Spanish Catholic, and while the conquest of religious differences is supposedly an ideal of England, British society at that time was very much against the spread of Catholicism. In addition, Cydaria’s character is a member of the polytheistic Indian religion; both of these creeds are in opposition to the Church of England and Puritanism. To stage the wedding ceremony of Catholics in the play, or to present the idea that the honorable Cortes would turn his back on the Christian Lord to become a polytheistic believer would not be taken well by the audience. The Indian Emperor is full of dramatic and fantastical scenes to awe the audience, drawing them into the story in such a way as to allow them to ignore any faults of Cortes and to make them forget their racism toward the Spanish and non-Europeans. Dryden ends the play with Cortes promising a grand funeral in remembrance of the great king Montezuma because such words would not spark controversy within the theater, and leave the play out on a note of peace and mercy.

-Meredith Leonardo

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

Dominance Through Non-existent Matrimony

In John Dryden’s “The Indian Emperour” we follow a romanticized tale about the Spanish conquering of Mexico – which we are very quickly able to see was written to act as political propaganda. Throughout the play we see Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez depicted as a sympathetic and peaceful man who wishes to live in harmony amongst the Aztec people he has gone to colonize. Along the way he falls in love with Moctezuma’s daughter Cydaria despite of the fact that there exists an imbalance in power dynamic and social standing. However, as we ultimately discover reaching the end of the play, Cortez and Cydaria are never brought together in holy matrimony or in any form of official union leaving plenty of room for interpretation.

It is my belief that Dryden wrote the Spaniard and Aztec woman’s finale in such a vague manner because he was hinting at the idea that a love between a pure European imperialist and a noble Aztec woman was that of a “forbidden” one. In this case I mean ‘forbidden’ in the sense that because of the difference in power and social ranking it would be impossible for a love like theirs to exist even in a fictional world. In a period of restoration, which England found themselves in, it is understandable as to why Dryden found it fit to steer away from an ending resulting in marriage between a man of status and a woman of a lower standing. I think the entire motive revolved around the idea of maintaining the European man at a higher level and had Cortez married Cydaria they would then be seen as equals – something Europe and its people would not have accepted so easily. At this time England and Europe found itself in a need of power and reassurance of it so Dryden could not afford to even remotely suggest that the native Aztecs and the Spanish conquistador were on an equal footing because that would mean they were not on a higher pedestal than Indians.

Considering the audience that would have been exposed to this play Dryden’s decision to write their ending in this way also makes sense because the elite audience would have not liked to see any positive interaction with a member of such an “inferior” class. Overall, I believe that Dryden’s final decision to not write Cortez and Cydaria ending in matrimony was a decision based on the need to establish power for the European man and to set a clear understanding that they held an elite status over the Aztec people and those they were colonizing. From my point of view I think if Dryden would have written Cortez to marry Cydaria it would have tarnished the idea that Europeans held authority over the colonized and in his ending it is clear he was establishing a Spanish dominance.

-Beverly Miranda-Galindo

Being John Dryden

John Dryden is an Imperialistic Ethno-centrist. He is racist, hateful, and as evinced by his writings, sorely ignorant of the potential damaged contained in the racial – and racist – themes of his writings. In The Indian Emperor, Montezuma is used as the tortured conduit for Dryden’s dispensing of his frustrations and nationalistic angst with the Spanish Empire’s New World colonialism yet, in doing so, Dryden dehumanizes Montezuma and warps him into a propaganda tool for the avarice of Britain. Herein lies the cru of Dryden’s contemporarily immoral stances; herein lies the fulcrum upon which we might base the age-old question – in relation to Dryden – of “Does the man make the times, or do the times make the man?”

            I find this peculiar lens an interesting angle through which to analyze Dryden because there are a lot of assumptions that will arise from even thinking of doing so. Namely, am I trying to ‘forgive’ Dryden for his sentiments? Trying to forgive the British Empire for the terror that it’s colonialism wrought? Trying to sympathize with them or only allow myself to view them through the cherry-picked context of their hundreds-year Empire? No, no, no. The British Empire and their soldiers and their explorers were agents of terror and Dryden acted to ‘paint over’ that terror. What’s strange, then – and possibly even more horrifying – is that Dryden never seemed to view that terror as actually being inflicted on other people. It’s easy to see why this might be given that the subject nation in his Indian Emperor is across the sea, miles away. Dryden never actually witnessed any of the tragedies and violence that he has so beautified with his flowery prose and melodramatic plotting…yet he seems to have no misgivings about doing so. Is that what it is like to live in a nation as it is entering it’s world-spanning prime? To survive as someone who mattered in this becoming Empire, did you have to operate with such an intense degree of certainty regarding the prestige of yourself and your people? If so, where does one attain such a mindset? Throughout his life, Dryden’s socioeconomic status never dropped below what might be considered ‘gentry.’ Was his almost constant exposure to the higher echelons of British life the cause of his sentiments? Was his mind so wrapped up in Puritan ideology that he came to embody the notion of being a paragon and being someone – and some nation – to be admired? Such arguments would seem to lend credence to the idea that Dryden is a result of his times and not – despite his writings of the coming Empire – the cause of his times. Dryden is no victim, but he was certainly not alone in fielding such ideologies.

            I found this an interesting response to give as it made me reconsider my own relationship with my country. I’d rather not get into the current debacle that is the U.S. administration, but I don’t have to look back far to find times that I could say that I was proud to be an American. During certain parts of Obama’s years, when the United States would place itself at the fore of humanitarian concerns and when a concern over citizen’s health-care was high, it was hard to not feel like I was living in, perhaps, the first ‘benevolent’ empire. That’s very nice, that patriotic feeling, as it gives you a sense of certainty that your culture and the people around you are probably at least doing somethings right. But even as progressive concerns and policies were pouring in, the United States was still involving itself in wars. Some might even suggest that the United States reaching out it’s ‘aid’ was just a duplicitous scheme to instill United States influence in developing countries. If that is the case, and if we might agree that the United States military-industrial complex is powered by propaganda and the exploitation of low-income ambition, then we might start to wonder who, exactly, is the John Dryden in our modern midst? And what would they have to say about our times and their hand in shaping them?

The Complication With Falling in Love

Out of all of the emotions, love by far is the one that is the messiest and most complicated of them all. So when looking over at Dryden’s piece we can expect that love will be no friend of ours. At first glance, taken by the title, we can guess that the work is a typical takeover story where the weaker man only becomes weaker and the stronger man only gains more power. In a sense we get that but we also gain much more, the evident affection between Cortez and Cyndria being one of those things. However we are left to ponder on what could have been for them. Like the ending of Romeo and Juliet we are left to wonder what the love could have become if the two had live, in this case we are left to wonder if times were different what could have been of Cyndria and Cortez’s love.

Now while Dryden makes Cydndria and Cortez’s feelings for one another evident to audience, he also makes Cortez’s feelings for doing what is “right” in a sense evident to. As we know he chose what was “right” serving his country, upholding his honor and gaining power. There is no accident showing both of these emotions and leaving audiences to wonder but rather for the time it was produced it showed how regardless one had to do what needed to be down to bring power, glory and honor to your own home nation. To viewers at the time being, and even readers now we know that their romance in a sense is frowned upon and it is this very idea of forbidden love that just makes viewers want them to be together even more. Dryden romanticizes the idea of conquest and power showing viewers and saying, yeah he fell in love but between clashing cultures and ruining your honor or gaining power and wealth which would you be better off? You can always find love again in someone else but if you miss your opportunity  at great power and wealth you are the real fool here.


Diana Moreno.