115th Annual Conference - Honolulu, Hawaii
Friday, November 10 - Sunday, November 12, 2017

Creating National Archetypes in Hispanic Theatre: The Case of Malinche in Fernando de Zárate’s La conquista de México (1700), Ignacio Ramírez’s La Noche Triste (1876), and Alfredo Chavero’s Xóchitl (1877)

Benito Quintana, University of Hawaii, Manoa

A discussion on the role of Malinalli as she appears in three Hispanic theatre plays. The 17th-century Spanish comedia La conquista de México by Fernando de Zárate, and two Romantic period plays from Independent Mexico: La noche triste by Ignacio Ramírez, and Xóchitl by Alfredo Chavero

Proposal: 

When we discuss the wars of conquest against the Mexica people waged by the Spaniard Hernán Cortés, four main individuals immediately come to mind: the conqueror Cortés, Moctezuma, the huey-tlatoani or great speaker of the Mexica people and his short lived predecessor Cuauhtemoc, and the young polyglot and interpreter indigenous woman Malinalli (Malintzin for the Nahuatl speaking people, doña Marina for the Spaniards, and Malinche for contemporary Mexicans).

Of the four, Malinalli, or Malinche as she is best known by the majority of Mexicans, is perhaps one of the most sophisticated figures and the one that has seen numerous imaginings, readings, and paintings that have pulled her identity in multiple directions and for various purposes. Often labeled a traitor, a willing collaborator, or a victim, Malinche’s persona also negotiated issues of language interpretation, ambassadorial duties, and allegiance to the various factions involved.

In this presentation I will discuss the role of Malinalli as dramatized in three Hispanic theatre plays. The 17th-century Spanish comedia histórica, La conquista de México by Fernando de Zárate, and two Romantic period plays from Independent Mexico: La noche triste by Ignacio Ramírez, and Xóchitl by Alfredo Chavero. The purpose of this analysis is twofold. First, to trace some the earliest representations of Malinche’s iconic characteristics, and second to argue how Malinche’s archetypical representations as represented in theatre reflect broader thematic themes that have contributed to shape a significant part Mexico’s national identity.