Do the sonnets seem to come from another part of Sor Juana's personality—do they address a different realm of her experience?in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is a woman with many sides, I believe. Her first passion in life was to learn. In studying her history, we know that she did all she could to do so. She begged to be dressed like a boy so that she might attend university, something only allowed to young men in New Spain (Mexico). When this did not work, she declares herself mostly self-taught.

As she grew older, Sor Juana realized that she had no interest in marriage, only in learning, studying and writing. The only acceptable place for this to take place in her society (for women at that time) was within a convent, so this is the path she chose, taking her vows and entering a comfortable, yet cloistered life.

The many sides of the woman included a brilliant mind, a dedication to procuring equal educational opportunities for women, a social advocacy regarding the misbehaviors of men against/with women, and dedication to her faith. At some times—based upon research available, this order appears to be how she defined her priorities.

However, when studying her sonnets, I would agree that a woman of contradictions emerges. I have only read some of Sor Juana's sonnets as many are as yet not published in English. However, of those I have studied, the first group is directed to religious subjects. Next, there are sonnets that are dedicated to patrons: those to "Laura" mark the passing of a patroness and very good friend.

Some sonnets are love sonnets. Having taken her vows relatively early in life, this comes as a surprise, however without dates upon them, I cannot tell if they were written before she took her vows or after. And while she had no interest in marriage, this is not to say she did not fall in love before coming a nun.

Other sonnets are addressed to the poor behavior of other women in love; there are sonnets written to historical figures, and those to dramatic characters. Another speaks to Pontius Pilate, while others are philosophical in nature.

While some sonnets will reflect things she has learned, still others seem to reflect another, perhaps hidden, side of her personality. It is of the time she spent that we have no records that a "different realm of her experience" may well have existed. As a nun, even communications unknown would have made up this experience. And though we know she had visitors, there were always bars separating them. Some sonnets may well be based on the experiences of others, from discussions, correspondence and even her own imaginings.

With so many years gone by, it is impossible to know, but I would agree that some of the sonnets do not seem to fit what we know of Sor Juana.

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