Two Women across the Cultural Divide: the Tolerance of Intolerance
As iconic figures of American history, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Anne Marbury Hutchinson stand in stark contrast to one another. Comparing these two outstanding women invites many burning questions. When we cross national, linguistic and cultural divides, such an association reminds us that historically America has represented, and continues to represent, many things to many people. It recalls for us that we all occupy other selves and different geographies.
When we consider the cultural implications and historical narratives of Anne Hutchinson of New England and Sor Juana of New Spain, the veil that separates geopolitical, cultural, religious and linguistic perspectives lifts to reveal two women whose lives and works figure prominently in discussions concerning the conflict of authority with intellectual liberty and religious tolerance in America. Narratives that recall details of their lives also emphasize both women’s ties to issues of gender and feminist rights as they have developed historically in America.Ultimately, this examination traces a line in space that extends from north to south: from Portsmouth, Rhode Island to Mexico City; and in time: from the twilight of the Elizabethan age to the present.
William Stark, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Rhode Island.