Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz is the most significant poet and writer of the colonial period in the Americas. Born of a poor family in the village of San Miguel de Nepantla near a town called Amecameca, not far from Mexico City, she learned to read at the age of three, and the pursuit of knowledge subsequently became her true passion. Barred from attending the University in Mexico City because she was a woman, her plan to attend classes dressed as a man failed. Sor Juana’s intellectual precocity attracted the interest of Viceroy Marquis de la Laguna, and for a time she served in his palace. During this period she became a very good friend of the viceroy’s wife, Vicereine Luisa Gonzaga Manrique de Lara, the countess of Paredes, marchioness de la Laguna.
In 1669, Sor Juana took vows as a nun and entered the Convent of San Jerónimo in Mexico City; at this point she adopted the name Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, by which she is conventionally known. While there, Sor Juana wrote plays, poetry, and prose. Her life of intellectual pleasure was ruined, however, with the publication in 1700 of her Respuesta de la poetisa a la muy ilustre Sor Filotea de la Cruz (“reply to Sister Philotea”), written in response to the bishop of Puebla’s recommendation that she turn her mind to spiritual rather than mundane, literary matters. The authorities silenced her; she sold her library and distributed the profits to the poor. She died while tending the sick in...
(The entire section is 1724 words.)
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