A Victim of the Double Rape
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
A Victim of the Double Rape
There is an old saying that goes "behind every strong man is a strong woman". This proverb can be used to describe the legacy of Hernando Cortes and his conquest of Mexico. Like the proverb, he had someone behind him who aided in his goals of dominance. The woman was Dona Marina, otherwise known as La Malinche. Her beauty and intelligence made her into one of the most hated and influential women in Mexico's history. According to Clifford Krauss, "La Malinche is for the most part portrayed as the perpetrator of Mexico's original sinů" (110).
La Malinche was a victim of a "double rape" (Todorov 49). Her destiny was determined at birth. As a child growing up in native culture, she conformed to gender roles put forth by her elders. She accepted her place as a second-class citizen, both as a slave and a woman. These lessons would eventually play into Cortes' grand scheme of conquest. Since she was a property of Cortes, her upbringing taught her to follow every one of Cortes' orders..
La Malinche did not deserve the prejudice put against her. Despite all the pain her native people and the Spanish gave her, she forgave them for their actions. Her knowledge of language and customs eventually played a role in her ease of assimilation into Spanish culture. Her loyalty to Cortes grew into love, which, in turn, wrongly made her a traitor to her own people. The natives coined the nickname "Mexican Eve", who tempted the Spanish into the native world with her beauty and sexuality. She was the mother of Mexico, for the child that she and Cortes created became the first documented
mestizo. This child would eventually follow in his mother's footsteps and conform to Spanish society. When Cortes left her after conquering Mexico, she lost everything-power, fame, and honor. She even lost her child. She had suffered the ultimate betrayal. She became La Chingada, which meant, "the fucked one" (Krauss B10).
Many natives, even present ones, still view La Malinche as a traitor to her people. The term malinchista is deemed as an insult. "To be called it is to be called a lover of foreigners, a traitor" (Krauss B10). According to Marta Sanchez, modern Mexicans connect the name Malinche to female sexuality. "The name Malinche, which suggests active power to betray perceived group or national interests, can refer to either a man or a woman, but even when applied to a man, it contains a residual stigmatizing implication of femaleness" (118). These interpretations of her name do not serve her any justice.
La Malinche grew up with the given name Malintzin. When she was born, a prophet had told her parents that she would have a relationship with a foreigner who would destroy the natives. Lanin Gyurko wrote, "When that child reaches adolescence she will love the greatest enemy of our race. This love will provoke her to deny the gods, sell out her brothers and hand over her nation to the foreigner" (Cypress 61). This prophecy would eventually become the truth.
According to historian William Prescott, her father was rich and powerful (Adams 2). Some believed that he was a great Indian chief, while others argued that she was the daughter of a powerful cacique (Cypress 26). Whatever the case, her father died when she was a small child. Her mother, who had remarried soon after her husband's death, sold her to the Xicalango Indians, in an attempt to secure sole ownership of her
husband's legacy to Malintzan's half brother. She eventually became the property of the cacique of Tabasco.
It is here where Hernando Cortes first encountered Malintzan. The cacique of Tabasco, who believed that Cortes and his men were gods who had graced his tribe with their presence, gave Malintzan, along with 20 other cooks, as a gift. Cortes had initially chosen someone else as his concubine; Malintzan quickly proved her value to him. He saw her as a pawn for his dreams of conquest (Adams 4).
La Malinche had many characteristics that made her attractive to Cortes. The feature that first struck Cortes was her beauty. "For the Christians she would be like an angel while Pagans would deem her a goddess of paradise" (Cypress 77). Not only was
View Full Essay
Interpreters, La Malinche, Slaves, Colonial Mexico, Malinchism, Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, La Malintzin, Hernn Corts, Aztec, Women in Mexico, Oconahua, Fall of Tenochtitlan
More Free Essays Like This