Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Sor Juana’s reputation as an early feminist rests upon The Poet’s Answer to the Most Illustrious Sister Filotea de la Cruz and upon the poem “Foolish Men.” The poem is commonly known by its first two words, “Hombres necios,” which translate as “Foolish Men,” or by its first line, which translates as “foolish men, who accuse. . . . ” “Foolish Men,” a poem in defense of women, is among her best-known works. Written in a relatively frank and idiomatic tone, the verses seem strikingly modern. Clearly, Sor Juana had difficulty in her own life with the role assigned to women. Sor Juana’s poetry often portrays women as the more logical partners in battles of love with men. Her view of love is certainly not idealized; relationships between men and women are necessarily problematic, and love itself is an unreasonable emotion filled with tension and strife.
“Foolish Men” opens with a blunt accusation against men who are very good at blaming women for faults that men themselves have caused. Sor Juana argues for women, although she never refers to women as “we.” Her short verses, in the form of redondillas—stanzas of four lines rhyming abba—move forcefully through her logical argument. The content is easy enough to follow, and Sor Juana repeats her view in various forms of rephrasing. Men win over women’s resistance and then, becoming self-righteous, blame them for feminine frivolity. Furthermore, a...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Flynn, Gerard. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Boston: Twayne, 1971.
Gonzalez, Michelle A. Sor Juana: Beauty and Justice in the Americas. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2003.
Hill, Ruth. Sceptres and Sciences in the Spains: Four Humanists and the New Philosophy, c. 1680-1740. Liverpool, England: Liverpool University Press, 2000.
Kirk, Pamela. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Religion, Art, and Feminism. New York: Continum, 1998.
Luciani, Frederick. Literary Self-Fashioning in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2004.
Merrim, Stephanie, ed. Feminist Perspectives on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991.
Montross, Constance M. Virtue or Vice? Sor Juana’s Use of Thomistic Thought. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1981.
Paz, Octavio. Sor Juana: Or, The Traps of Faith. Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988.