Don’t Cry for Me, Harp India

This poem is a very powerful piece as it calls out to those that have been impacted by the never ending grasp of colonialism. The use of the harp within the piece signifies that the country of India, as described in the poem “The Harp of India” by Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, interprets that the country, which was once one of the most beautiful things that the population could enjoy has now been neglected, that it is in tatters due to the mismanagement that it had endured. The poem talks about how how many of the pleasures the harp once brought are now mere memories and that it just stands as a testament to the follies of the imperialists that had resided in India up to that point.

However, there is some semblance of hope within this powerfully poetic piece. At the end of the poem, there is a moment where the speaker, despite his melancholia getting the better of them for most of the poem, has a moment of resolve in their want to improve the country, as is described in line 12-14: “but if thy notes divine/ May be by mortal wakened once again,/ Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” Even though the reader finds himself to be unworthy of such a task, as he mentions in line 8, he yearns for an age in which he can finally live in a space that was once the strong and proud nation that was before the colonialists had arrived.

This piece was powerful in its message about being in the face of the adversity of colonialism and imperialism that, despite the neglect inflicted upon the population and the country itself, the people strive to claim back their country in any which way, which is exemplified by even just the poem itself.

Alejandro Joseph Serrano

Swift’s Satirical Parallels

In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift satirizes Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. The satire begins in the first chapter, after Gulliver is shipwrecked onto a strange island. When he makes it to the island’s shore, he falls asleep, but when he awakes, he is bound by ropes. When he tries to break free from the bondage, he is shot with hundreds of tiny arrows and he “fell a groaning with Grief and Pain” (Swift 24). After Gulliver learns that it is best to remain calm and do as he is told, the people of Lilliput feed him “Baskets full of Meat” and drinks that “tasted like small Wine” (Swift 25-26). Because the people of Lilliput are small (around six inches), the amount of food they give to Gulliver is significant. Though he is supposedly their captive, they still feed him well and give him shelter. This resembles Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative because she is taken captive and is physically hurt during the act. However, after she begins to do as the native’s instruct, she is never harmed again and she is also given food. In one particular instance, Rowlandson is offered her peas and such when the native people were suffering from the same sense of starvation as her. The experience Gulliver has with the people of Lilliput reflect’s Rowlandson’s experience with the natives.

Furthermore, when he is explaining everything that occurred in writing, Gulliver integrates words from the Lilliput people. He mentions words such as “Borach Mivola”, “Hekina Degul”, “Peplom Selan”, and “Hurgo”. Though at first, he did not understand the meaning of those words, he eventually began to learn what some of those words meant. Gulliver states, “he cried out three times Langro Dehul san (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me) (Swift 25). This reflects Mary Rowlandson’s writing in her captivity narrative because she also includes Native language words and she makes it clear that she learned the meaning of those words. Rowlandson created an unspoken bond with the Natives and despite her efforts to make it seem otherwise, Swift’s writing reflects her experience (in a more comical manner).

Gulliver is taken to meet the leader of the people – the same way that Rowlandson was taken to meet King Philip. Gulliver becomes more amicable with the people of Lilliput even though he is considered to be their captive because they do not exactly mistreat him. Gulliver sees the people as strange because of their physical features and that is parallel to the way that Mary Rowlandson (and white colonists) saw the Natives – as otherworldly. The parallels continue throughout the novel, but in this specific part, there is much similarity between Rowlandson’s writing and Swift’s fictional tale.

-Maria G. Perez

Don’t Slander

Rowlandson’s narrative certainly adds to the complexity of still prevalent issues between colonialist invaders and indigenous peoples. Often history portrays the past very one dimensionally. In certain instances almost akin to Dryden’s “Indian Emperor”, the leadership and guiding motivation of imperialist powers is portrayed as a noble and honorable venture, such as President Trump’s efforts and all too infamous slogan “Make America Great Again” being propagandized to reinforce discrimination towards minority groups and incessant efforts to promote a very nationalistic and nativist climate. Inversely, the equally modern villainization of Christopher Columbus and the rebranding of his namesake holiday is a consequence of enveloping the entire character of Columbus as a herald of mass genocide. Although relegated to 17th century history, Rowlandson’s journal still provides pertinent insight on conflicts and treatment between indigenous and minority groups and colonists alike. Rather than emphasize the scope of these conflicts as a whole, Rowlandson exhibits insight into how these conflicts were shaped at an individual level.

All throughout the narrative it is present that the violence and conflict between natives and colonists were not solely black and white. Some natives murdered her daughter and brother- in-law, whereas others shared their limited rations with her despite being on the brink of starvation themselves. At an individual level, natives had different perspectives and priorities on matters of the guerrilla war. Similarly, combat that occurred between natives and colonists was not necessarily one-sided. Although the native population in what became the United States was completely decimated, this was a consequence of foreign disease more than immediate bloodshed. Were it not for smallpox the world would look astronomically different today. This is not to trivialize nor justify any of the atrocities committed on either side, but rather reevaluate that the purpose behind colonial conflict, both past and modern, was not entirely one-dimensional. The history of intolerance has never been justified, but as Rowlandson shows, it is more nuanced than most people tend to believe, and in the modern world these strictly polarizing perspectives will only continue to reinforce this history and climate of intolerance.

-Kevin Martinez

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.

White Savior Complex

In John Drydens, The Indian Emperor topics such as love and power are questioned. Although both main characters Cydaria and Cortez are seemingly in “love” their feelings for each other are more than just romantic they actually have a deeper meaning that mirrors the relationship between the Aztecs and the imperialists. When the Spanish took over the Americas although its often times been romanticized it’s obvious that it was over greed and that the Natives were never thought about. It may seem like the love between Cydaria and Cortez is pure but as a reader I had to take a step back and understand the dynamics behind their relationship. In reality the men that came to the Americas were not innocent men looking for love, they were actually looking to overpower and conquer. I feel like the play romanticized the colonization of these people and tried to give off the theme that love can conquer all when in reality this relationship didn’t have anything to do with love.

Throughout the play Cortez is challenged by the relationship between love and power. Although he has power he also feels love for Cydaria and because of that a lot of his decisions are based off her. This can play into the term “White savior complex”, or a white person who goes out of their way to help someone nonwhite for their own gain. Cortez is forced to choose between the love for his country and his need to “take” care of Cydaria. Even at the end their love isn’t what wins and it isn’t clear if power or love was more important to him. It is obvious that Cortez does feel inclined to take care of Cydaria but that also raises the question of is his love for her actually love or if he simply wants to be a savior. The fact that even at the end of the play their love didn’t end in marriage proves that in a sense Cortez chose his nationalism before his love for her.


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

Dryden’s Allusion to the English Civil War?

By: Isabel Pantoja

Although confusing John Dryden’s The Indian Emperour,or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards showed us a peek into the authors commentary about politics through the use  of imperialism to share his views of the situation at hand to those of his nation specifically the English Civil War, and very importantly those with power. A influence on his work, even though his family is stated as not being from a strict puritan family, but was for parliament being against the Monarchy (Greenblatt, 2208). Of course, the imperialism discussed is in the form of criticizing a nation the English were not always getting along with; the Spanish. Ironically, the English Monarchy was being compared to the imperialistic Spanish.  I enjoyed the allusion to the English Civil War through the characters in the play. The two main powers in the play which signified to me being the characterizations of war and it’s two main players. For example, Charles I being alluded to through; Cortez while the Montezuma signified Parliament and its struggle to lament with the Monarchy. The representation of how Dyden alluded to situations happening during the English Civil War through his use of characters to me, was interesting. Especially my interpretation of these allusions to political happens in English politics. To me, Cydaria represents King Charles I love for England like a angel on his shoulder while his cohorts are represented like being the devil on his other shoulder; in this case being his fellow Spaniards and his naive immoral love for his country. Characters Guyomar. Montezuma, Odmar, Guyomar and Alibech, and their actions to me represent Parliament’s desperate attempts to approach and go against the Monarchy, like for example Alibech orchestrating of assassinating Cortez.  To further this concept, Guyomar’s warning of Alibech’s and Orbellan plan to assassinate Cortez alludes to the killing of Charles, and is also a possible allusion to the bible when Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Montezuma essentially being betrayed by Guyomar. Orbellan’s represents  Parliament’s attempt to override the Monarchy and the killing of Orbellan representing the essentially dissolving of parliament by Charles. The prophetic love triangles serving as an explanation between the relationship between Charles, parliament, and the peoples they ruled over. Lastly, I would like to point out how Pizzaro, and the Spaniards, need for wealth in gold this demonstrating how Puritans viewed greed especially through the Spaniard’s obsession with obtaining it. Dryden attempting to shove a moral lesson to his audience through his own “Literature of Knowledge/Power.” This ultimately being an example of Dryden showing his leaning towards puritan ideology.

Work Cited

Dryden, John. The Indian Emperor: or, the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. A Tragedy. By John Dryden, Esq. Printed for A. Donaldson, 1759.

Garcia, Humberto. 102 English Civil War Slides.pdf. UC Merced – Top Hat, 2019

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: the Major Authors. W.W. Norton & Company, 2013

Forcing Violence Onto Love

Samantha Shapiro

In the play The Indian Emperour, or the Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards by John Dryden, the relationship between the Spanish conquistador Cortez and the Aztec Cydaria is inherently one-sided by Dryden’s choice behind forcing honor against love. In a culmination of the two’s conflicting pulls throughout the plot, Dryden ultimately doesn’t see the relationship blossom due to imperialism forcing power dynamic between the two characters.

Dryden conveys a power dynamic between Cortez and Cydaria to add “edge” to the plot, and in doing so, forces violence into love figuratively and literally in the relationship and plot. Cortez, in many instances, is shown to adore Cydaria passionately, “Like Travellers that wander in the Snow, [he would look] [up]on her beauty…till [he was] blind,” even desiring to go to great lengths for her to “once more…[crown his love] In bright Cydaria ‘s Arms” (Dryden 13, 32). However, in these proclamations of love and dedication, the choice in phrasing by Dryden forces a power dynamic between the two to artificially advance the plot in an otherwise straightforward story of conquest. To establish the dramatic action the characters go through, Cortez’s dialogue paints his love for Cydaria, and her influence over him as captivating and powerful, even over such a “strong hero” like, him, with sayings like “I can bear Death, but not Cydaria’s Tears” and him later “melt[ing] to womanish tears,” courage betraying him (36, 52). These types of declarations of love artificially create a power dynamic, and are easily seen through and nullified with Cortez’s proclamation: “I dread your anger, your disquiet fear, but blows from hands so soft who would not bear” (24).

Cydaria’s dialogue also contributes to this power dynamic, while initially giving her a strong impression, ultimately adds to a submission. She initially poses this interesting question to Cortez, “what is this Honour that does Love controul?” almost taunting and questioning the hold honor has for him (18). After arguing with him over his duty in conquest for his honor, he attempts to concede, even stating, “I till to morrow will the fight delay, Remember you have conquer’d me to day” (19). This further ties a power dynamic between the two, creating tension between passion. However, this ends up taking a more realistic turn with Cydaria almost bowing down to him symbolically in submission. When he later pleads with her to let her be led to safety, she says, “leave me not here alone, and full of fright…I beg, I throw me humbly at your feet” (51). All of these types of proclamations tie love in forcefully with violence, and in doing so establish a power dynamic between the two lovers, something false given the power he has over her in attempting to take over her country. In the end, conquistadors are still conquistadors — “honour once lost is never to be found” (18).

Imperialistic Technique

The play “The Indian Emperor” by John Dryden uses the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards history in order to promote an imperialistic propaganda towards England. It is interesting to see how Dryden was able to create two sides of imperialism by alternating the colonization history: 1) that imperialism is bad and evil, by showing how many of the conquistadors behaved towards the native Americans and how they tortured Montezuma in order to convert him into Christianity and 2) imperialism is something they should consider if they decide to stay united. This second point can be seen through how Dryden decided to perceive Cortés, like discussed in class by making Cortés sympathetic (by believing in love and unison) towards the Native Americans and by making him fall in love with Cydaria, he created an idea of stating that imperialism is good as long as they do not do it like the Spaniards did.

In the other hand when it comes to the relationship between Cortés and Cydaria, I think that Dryden did not end the play with matrimony because there was no need to. As someone had mentioned, he probably just created this love relationship in order to get the audience to “accept” the conquest. At the same time, I feel that Dryden did not end the play in the way we expected it just because the relationship could have been representing the power that an imperialist have over something/someone inferior. For example, as he loved Cydaria but preferred Charles V, we can perhaps perceive this, like the idea that someone can get over or rid of anything that is no longer needed. This situation cannot only be seen within the inferiority of the Native Americans but also within the women herself as she can be thrown away and be dehumanized by man.

Imperialism and Exotic Land: A Metaphor of Love

The Indian Emperour by John Dryden is a heroic drama that tells the story of the Spanish Conquistadors arriving in Mexico, aiming to colonize the land and conquor the Aztec empire. The main Character is the famed Spanish Explorer Hernan Cortes. As with many Heroic Dramas, the plot hinges upon both the main character’s devotion to his country and his goal, yet Dryden introduces the element of unexpected Love between Cortes and Cydaria ( A daughter of Montezuma, the Aztec ruler) to both add some moral complexity to the story as well as metaphorically capture the relationship between the imperialists and the native peoples they interacted with.

Within the play, the main character, Cortes, seems to be representative of the concept of Imperialism: he is strong, bold, willing to risk his life for his country and its inhabitants, and wishes to see whatever task he is given to the end if his goal will benefit his homeland. Conversely, Cydaria, the love interest, seems to represent the natives of the land imperialists attempt to colonize: she is exotic, feminine, and, more prominently, the daughter of the ruler of the Aztecs. These two characters and their unexpected yet passionate love seem to be a metaphor for Europe’s infatuation with exotic and unexplored lands.

Despite the passion of Cortes and Cydaria’s unrequited love, Dryden left the ultimate fate of their relationship ambiguous, only hitning at their possible union. This romantic ambiguity served two purposes: to make a statement about Europe’s relationship with Native people as well as provide drama for theatre audiences. The former purpose seemed to be Dryden’s attempt to emphasize the Imperialist countries lust for the resources, land, and power that previously unexplored places of the globe such as Mexico had to offer. In hinting at the union between Cortes and Cydaria, or, metaphorically, Imperialism and Native Land, Dryden suggests that there may always exist the love for conquering and exploring from Imperialist nations, even if nothing seems to come of it. Furthermore, the latter purpose was Dryden’s motive as a playwright to leave the audience thinking. While Dryden did craft a beautiful and bold piece of literature with The Indian Emporour, the historic manuscript was still intended to be a play, and plays, especially during the Restoration, were the most popular (and often most controversial) forms of entertainment. The ambiguity of love that Dryden leaves his audiences with is both powerful and thought-provoking, and even centuries later prompts controversial discussion.

-Shawn Pintor-Day