The 'Sins of Sor Juana,' the feminism of a visionary poet

Posted November 24, 2020

Sor Juana Al Dia Review

By Beatriz García, Als Dia

The life of the 17th century Mexican poet and nun, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, is as fascinating and hypnotic as her verse. It is known that she was the daughter of a Creole and a Spanish captain, who studied in her grandfather's library because education was forbidden to women and began to read and write at the age three. By eight, she had already written her first Eucharistic loa and learned Latin in only 20 lessons.

Because she had an intelligence that stood out from the rest, she was appointed maid of honor of the wife of the Viceroy of Toledo, but Ines did not aspire to become the devoted woman of a good match on the Court and entered a convent of the Order of Saint Jerome to flee from her destiny.

Did she really have a religious vocation, or was she looking for a place where she could freely continue her studies and readings? According to the writer Octavio Paz, Sister Juana became a nun to think.

Her iconic stature has become an inspiration for women, facing more than three centuries of strict morality and the objectification of women in her time. Her sober self became a meeting point for writers, poets, and philosophers of the time, weaving in writing what would be the cornerstone of a proto-feminism in the West and defending tooth-and-nail women's rights to education:

"Foolish men who accuse

to the woman without reason

without seeing that you are the occasion

of the same thing that you blame..."

While her work and story are not well known, PBS Wisconsin and the American Players Theatre (APT) introduced Sor Juana as part of "Out of the Wood," a November series of play readings that has given voice to playwrights, directors, and actors of color.

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