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

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Gruesome Exaggeration or just a Misunderstanding?

Rowlandson was one to accept her faith and believe that God had her life and death planned out for her, a different view of how to take a look at her narrative. When most view this, they tend to see violence, genocide, and loss of religion. Moments exchanged between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors can be read to confirmthe history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America. For example, Rowlandson describes her experience in gruesome sentences such as “Some in our house were fighting for their lives, others wallowing in their blood, the house on fire over our heads, and the bloody heathen ready to knock us on the head if we stirred out,” helps to persuade her readers to sympathize with her. By including words and descriptions that evoke visual imagery, such as the death of her children, killing and stripping of her brother in law, Rowlandson attempts to herd her readers into the view of the intolerance against indigenous people. Rowlandson was not truly one of these indigenous natives, she was married to a high powered religious man. The murder of the “good, innocent” Christian people is supposed to be the main draw in focus in her narrative. I agree with Thomas because he seems to share the value of the narrative that I seem to have, he stated in his blog post, “The most gruesome interactions between Natives and colonists in all of U.S history probably occurred in this region between the Dutch and Algonquian peoples. ‘Native infants were torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presents of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other suckling’s, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone’”. Another good point brought up was when he stated, “When John Winthrop landed alongside Arbella and its fleet, he was not focused on the presence of later dictators, globalization and trade, but rather the establishment of Christian ideals on a clean slate”. Winthrop and Rowlandson both share similar ideals when it comes to the way of viewing Christians over the racism of indigenous people, unlike Dryden whose play was full of racist remarks.

– Alina Cantero

What to Expect

The answer to the question, “Do moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America?” is very complicated. If someone were to read this with no background knowledge, the answer to that question would be it contradicts the history because the Algonquians are very nasty to their prisoners a lot of the time. However, with the background knowledge that it was Rowlandson’s people who started the war with the Algonquians, it then confirms the history. In the story the Indians kill her children, throw her bible, and say nasty things to her. Although, not every Indian she encounters treats her like dirt. When considering this question, we must not forget that her people are the ones that slaughtered the Indians first. Now they are angry and seeking revenge, so it is understandable why they treat her the way they do. We see this as well in Dryden’s play when the Indians are minding their own business and suddenly these people show up and tell them they must bow to a king they have never met. They do not just roll over to it in that play either. In Rowland’s piece, she is also very hostile to the Indigenous people because they killed her people, and I doubt the narrator is aware that her people started the war she is now prisoner of. In conclusion, I think the answer to the question is that it complicates the history of intolerance because in every war there comes a point where you are no longer fighting for some bigger cause, but rather for survival.

-Oliver Briggs

Two Sides to Every Conflict

Rowlandson’s narrative complicates the history between the natives and the English. Rowlandson accepted her faith, after a while, she believed God had it planned out for her and she would let everyone know what happened once she was okay and no longer suffering. But that is not how many people who had gone through that saw it. These individuals were afraid and scared for their lives, they most likely didn’t believe this is what God wanted for them. This only made it worse for the colonizers, they knew people or were aware what individual had to go through the same faith they had put Native Americans through. There had to be some understanding that they had it coming, they did it first, they caused so much pain and death.

I’m not saying it is okay but what these pieces hide or hint at is racism. Dryden’s The Indian Emperour was full of racism, making it seem as if colonization is actually okay by romanticizing it with Cortez and Cydaria. Dryden makes it seem like colonization is the only way to help the natives and it needs to be done. While Rowlandson makes the natives appear as the bad ones in this situation, shooting at her and her family, and not providing her with food. Although what the natives did was wrong they were not the bad ones from the start, the colonists put themselves in this situation, they were put in a situation where they had put so many natives in before. I believe this makes the natives look worse, maybe they wanted the colonists to feel the same way they felt but getting them in that same situation was a mistake. It shows them as individuals who had no empathy or understanding, it is inhuman to do the same thing that was done to them. Both, colonists and natives, were in the wrong and appear to be racists towards each other. They seem like children trying to blame one another, neither taking responsibility for the things they have done, especially the colonists. They blame the natives when really they ‘started it’ and won’t own up to what they did. It all appears to be more complicated and contradicting to the colonists but the natives should have known, ‘fighting fire with fire’ was not a good thing to do and was not the only option.

-Sandy Morelos

A Colonial History of Violence

Mary Rowlandson was held captive for eleven weeks and five days after she and her three children were taken captive by a Wampanoag raiding party. The details of the brutality Rowlandson witnessed and at times endured give readers a look into the conflicting relationship between the colonists and the natives. Rowlandson’s interactions with the Algonquian people complicate and contradict the history of intolerance against native people during the English colonization period. Though Rowlandson initially endures brutality and suffers the loss of her baby, the development of her writing gives the natives a sort of humanistic perspective that early writers did not give before. For example, when Rowlandson is taken to meet with King Philip, she begins to weep and when a native asked her why she cried, she said that the natives would kill her. To this, the native responded no and that “None [would] hurt [her].” Furthermore, one of the natives “gave [her] two spoonfuls of meal to comfort [her]” while another “gave [her] half a pint of peas”, which according to Rowlandson, “was more worth than many bushels at another time”. This contradicts the idea that natives only inflicted violence upon settlers. In this scene, the natives display an act of kindness during a time when Rowlandson showed vulnerability and sadness. When Rowlandson meets with King Philip, he offers her a smoke of his tobacco pipe as a compliment and though she speaks about how sinful smoking was, she never explicitly states whether or not she accepted to smoke. In the ninth remove, Rowlandson learns that her son is less than a mile from her and when she asks for permission to go and see him, they allow her to do so. The simple and seemingly meaningless acts of kindness contradict the ideas that both people were completely intolerant of one another.  In a close-up view, the threats Rowlandson faced and the deaths she witnessed in Lancaster may cause readers to have sympathy for her. However, by looking at the situation from a historical, outside, and educated perspective, the deaths that happened in Lancaster and the threats Rowlandson faced do not evoke much sympathy. The conflict that led up to the actions taken by the Algonquian people were a consequence of the white immigrant colonists’ constant invasion on native lands (a consequence of their own actions and example of hypocrisy). When taking into the consideration the years of violence and constant dehumanization natives faced, one small raiding party and the death of some white colonists does not measure up to the hundreds of native people and children brutally murdered. Rowlandson’s writing does confirm the violence that existed between natives and English people, but only to a certain extent. Many of the threats Rowlandson faced were words and actual brutality was not commonly placed upon her. Her writing complicates history because the natives did not invade the small town just to inflict violence. They acted upon violence to capture the wife of a minister and to defend themselves against the constant white invasion. Perhaps Rowlandson restrained herself from including more details in order to protect her Puritan chastity, but the small details actually mentioned and the inclusion of native words only support the idea that she actually formed some type of unspoken bond with her captors.

-Maria G. Perez

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.

 

 

As the Worlds Turn

Dryden’s The Indian Emperour, is a dramatic play on the history of Mexico’s conquest at the hands of the Spanish. In a highly dramatized version of the events that occurred, Dryden managed to turn the conquering of the indigenous people of Mexico by the Spanish, into a soap opera. Of course, this play had to take a massive amount of liberties, it must appeal to the noble class, and those who find entertainment in the theater. Dryden does a well job adding suspense, and interesting love triangles into an already tense situation of a soon to be conquered people. Credit where its deserved, Dryden has created a heroic play, with couplets paired with iambic pentameter, which gives him credit in the poetry world.

Where he doesn’t deserve credit is closed-minded Eurocentric thinking and writing of the play. In Scene 1, Act 1, Cortez, Pizzaro, and Vasquez talk about the potential bountiful of food they can grow on the land, almost as if it was granted to them by God. The conquering by Cortez is hidden by love triangles, and dry romances that lead nowhere.

Cortes’s change of heart isn’t a change of heart, but a fear of the supernatural. A curse brought upon the ‘gold’ and riches of the empire. His attempts to be charitable to Montezuma, who was his enemy is in vain, he’d rather choose death than to receive charitable help from the Spanish. Honor plagues this play, whether it be to the Gods, or for country, honor dictates this play.

Cydaria’s attempts to curtail Cortez’s campaign are useless. Cortez choose pride and country, he conquers for a flag, for Spain, for God.

Nationalism, Patriotism, Imperialism plague this soap-opera of a play, I might even call propaganda. It diminishes the power of the indigenous people who were conquered, as the Spanish got off with seemingly no punishment, hell, they even got a play dedicated to their greatest bounty.

: Robert Morales

Conquering Male Spaniards and the Female Natives

My initial thoughts prior to reading the play were that Dryden seemed to almost downplay the conquest of the Aztec Empire with this love versus honor that occurred around Cortez, the very man who brought upon the downfall of Aztec life. It reminded me of the Disney film, Pocahontas, in which she is shown to fall in love with a white man on an expedition although here we find out later on that that was not entirely true. In both cases, they also end the same way. Neither couple is brought together in either play or film adaptation, rather we are left to mull it over ourselves. With this in mind, it also almost romanticizes the conquests that occurred at this time, though with Dryden’s play we could infer that he was trying to convey the anxieties of that time as well as the racist ideals many held.

In the prologue, Dryden states, “the scenes are old, the habits are the same,” which I interpreted as him speaking about the racist ideals many people carried at that time, despite nearly two centuries passing since its occurrence. He brings this up once more with the very mentioning of another Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro, who did not shy away from showing any of his true feelings as seen in the first act, “Corn, wine, and oil, are wanting to this ground, In which our countries fruitfully abound; As if this infant world, yet unarrayed, Naked and bare in Nature’s lap were laid. No useful arts have yet found footing here, But all untaught and savage does appear.” The very usage of the word savage here in relation to the Aztecs is something that is often repeated, in other adaptations that followed and something that many racist individuals continue to spout.

In conveying the audience’s anxieties of the couple, Dryden was able to show the racist ideals many carried at that time with his mentioning of Pizarro and the very writing of such a conquest as well as this sort of romanticized incident that occurred.

– Lou Flores

The Era’s Choice

Though, it is known by most to be a “heroic drama”, which involved the reverence of the brittle political mood in the beginning of the Restoration era, its effect continued to rely on the audience. As John Dryden’s The Indian Emperor stands to be apart of the late 17th century’s Restoration-era, its popularity and literary interest stemmed from the play’s representation of a nonnative new land. The play dispensed the superiority of Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortéz over the Aztec people. Not only did the voyage of the Spanish cause great demolition to the earliest natives, but also it led to conquering the grounds of Mexico. The play itself brought on a visual exhibition that introduced possible representations of empire, governance, honor, and love. The destruction of the Aztec Empire was construed to be a perfect display of a recently reinstated monarchy.

Two major themes that were reinstated time and time again throughout the course of the play was honor and love. At first read, I found myself stuck on the troubles of making decisions on temporary emotions, as well as making decisions that best fit with tradition and word. We encounter characters in this play that base decisions on what feels right to them, while others base their decisions in good conscious and in respect towards their surroundings. We encounter characters that choose honor and love, and we encounter characters who psychotically interpret love as the only thing that should be fought for. Both bloody and miserable, characters such as Alibech are left to sin and see it as an interpretation to illustrating just how far they would go to honor love.

Cortez, who in fact is tied between choosing both honor and love instead carries the capability to differentiate both. Cortez is then left to decide whether he love his country more than his love interest Cydaria. Though there was no definite end to their relationship, I feel that Dryden left their status hidden to allow his audience to decide what was to be of them. Maybe it was to avoid controversy, but if he wanted to avoid controversy regarding the union of their two cultures, he could’ve easily kept them apart. Different cultures/people witnessed this play together in their own liveliness. They saw love grow and deteriorate, as well as their country. Dryden never agreed nor disagreed to their love, this era did.

BY: ROSALINDA FLORES