There is a criticism of colonization at work within Dryden’s work. However, not of its entirety. Instead, there is an underlying hint that Pizzaro and even Cortez are wrong, not for their goal of conquesting the Americas, rather for their manner of going through it as well as the motivations. There is definitely a reason then, why Cortez never ended with Cydaria in a typical hero’s wedding, that classic trope does not fit with the ideals Dryden has kept buried in the play. If one is to find this ideal, we must think like Dryden, worry of English colonists and how they compare with Spanish conquistadors…what makes the English so great then?
Beginning with the depiction of evil, greedy Pizarro – Dryden emphasized the typical villain for his lust for money, money, money. He tried to reap as much as he wanted, and he failed. Then it must be that Dryden condemns this greed, one must not attempt to conquest the Americas solely for the monetary gain. While that definitely plays a factor, there is something much more valuable in the Americas than just money. Then is the protagonist, Cortez, the man of honor swayed away by love. Dryden displays a man capable of so much power, who is then captivated by native beauty, represented by Cydaria. Because of this, he stalls in his effort to conquest America, but only succeeds when he focuses on the main purpose of Spanish conquest – to claim what must be rightfully theirs.
What exactly could Dryden have in mind? Many things, specifically highlighted by Cortez’s victory only when he regains focus on his main goal. This reflects on the idea that there must be a certain way to colonize in order to be successful, as well as the dangers of colonizing. The manner to conquest that is respected by Dryden must be that of passionate yet controlled focus. There is no need for native integration, not to be distracted by the natural beauty nor by the overwhelming lust of gold, greed. There must be a middle ground, the middle ground that the English must surely take. The natives must not be slaughtered, nor they be called in and welcomed, but they must serve under the colonists, pushed away and cornered. They should be kept under control. The Catholic way is like a hungry beast, consuming and feeding, taking in the natives to add to their masses. Dryden still condemns this, despite illuminating Cortez. How? It’s only when he abandons his native love that he succeeds, that definitely points in the direction that an English conquest would prefer. After all, native love got one prideful monarch killed and his people taken in by the cruel conquistadors…do the English people truly want to take lands in such a savage manner, ruin their blood for the sake of expanding their religion? Dryden may romanticize his characters, but there are certainly nationalistic values still at stake, still applied in the underlying meanings of the text. Be warned colonies, do not be distracted, focus on the goal not to expand religion, not to gain money, not to fall in love with new peoples, but just as Dryden put Cortez forward only when he got to the real goal, the English colonies must focus on their love of their nation, their honor, if they want to progress and move forward. This must be, and ultimately was, the English colonial ideal.