Silence Through Representation: La Malinche as Christian, Mistress, and Conquistadora
Silence Through Representation: La Malinche as Christian, Mistress andConquistadoraColleen A. Sweet, Ph.D.Director: Mario A. Ortiz, Ph.D.La Malinche played a major role in the Mexican Conquest. She is known as both mistress and translator of Hernán Cortés. In Mexican history, her name is associated with betrayal. The year 1992 was pivotal in the discourse concerning the encounter between Europe and the Americas. Postcolonial studies stressed the need to recover the long-silenced voice of the subaltern characters of the Conquest. This search for an indigenous perspective inspired a new body of artistic works concerning Malinche. In this dissertation I examine the film La otra conquista (Salvador Carrasco, 1998), the novel Malinche (Laura Esquivel, 2006), and the play La Malinche (Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda, 2000). These works address three major roles associated with the representation of Malinche: as convert to Christianity, as mistress to Cortés, and as collaborator in the events of the Conquest. The works under study posit new explorations into the role of both female and indigenous figures in the discourse of the Conquest of Mexico. In La otra conquista, Carrasco removes Malinche from the historical record and replaces her with a revisionist figure. The character of Isabel Moctezuma subverts the traditional representation of Amerindian female women as passive victims of Mexico's colonial past. In her novel Malinche, by turning Malinche into a romance heroine not only does Esquivel silence her, she also perpetuates a model of passivity for Amerindian women. In La Malinche, Rascón Banda fragments Malinche into many different characters in order to parallel the political divisiveness plaguing Mexico after the crisis of 1994. Malinche is an ever-changing palimpsest that serves to broach the issues of Mexican, Latin American, feminine, and indigenous identity that each author wishes to revisit. The representations of Malinche in these works remind us that the relationships of domination and subordination from our historical past still echo today. Thus, Malinche's silence underscores the impossibility of rescuing the subaltern from historical obscurity.
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