The Unscholarly Approach to Analyzing the Historical Figure of Doña Marina Essay
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The Unscholarly Approach to Analyzing the Historical Figure of Doña Marina
According to historical accounts, Doña Marina played a key role as an interpreter for Hernan Cortés during the Conquest of New Spain. Doña Marina, also known as La Malinche, was born around 1502 in a Mexican province known as Coatzacoalcos. As a young girl, Marina was given up by her mother to travelling traders, and she eventually came into the hands of Cortés. Cortés found Marina extremely valuable to his cause for conquest because she spoke both Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Aztec, and the dialects of the natives of Tabasco (Candelaria 6), and eventually Spanish. Cortés became almost completely dependent on her for her language capabilities and her understanding of native culture (Greenblatt 145). Some scholars, such as Stephen Greenblatt in his book, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, focus their discussion of Doña Marina on analyzing this significant role that she played in the Conquest of New Spain. Greenblatt’s writing is an example of a scholarly approach to analyzing Marina because his reasoning logically stems from historical evidence. Other scholars, however, such as Cordelia Candelaria in her essay, “La Malinche, Feminist Prototype,” and Frances E. Karttunen in her book, Between Worlds: Interpreters, Guides, and Survivors, become entangled in the futile debate that investigates Doña Marina’s motives for aiding Cortés. Through analysis of her motives, they both attempt to argue that Marina should be viewed as innocent in regard to the downfall of the Aztec Empire. Candelaria and Karttunen’s argument acts as an unscholarly approach to justification, however, because their speculation of Marina’s motives diverges from historical evidence. Stephen Greenblatt’s analysis of Doña Marina’s important role serves as an epitomical example of a scholarly approach.