Enlightenment Implications, Bourbon Influence and Character Construction in <i>Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique</i>: An Alternative Approach to the Life, Works and Ideology of Eusebio Vela
Oleson, Megan Louise
A general disregard for literary works of eighteenth-century Latin America continues to characterize scholars’ attitudes towards the era. The prevailing past and current scholarly approaches to these works have portrayed them as second-rate, overly Baroque and valueless. I argue that these negative perceptions have remained stagnant not because of their innate inferiority, but rather because of many scholars’ inadequacies in correctly interpreting their intentionality. To further this assertion, I focus on the analysis of the famed eighteenth-century playwright Eusebio Vela and his play Comedia nueva del apostolado en las Indias martirio de un cacique (Comedia nueva del apostolado). I analyze the ways in which the intentionality within Comedia nueva del apostolado becomes more apparent when it is understood as a participant in the large-scale cultural indoctrination campaign promoted by the Bourbon monarchy and influenced by the Enlightenment. The primary sources I reference that allow for enlightenment-influenced elements to surface within the play include José Antonio Maravall’s Politica directiva en el teatro ilustrado and Ignacio de Luzán’s La Poética o reglas de la poesía en general y de sus principales especies. My textual analysis covers the ways in which Comedia nueva del apostolado indoctrinates Bourbon values through historical revisionism and character construction. By appropriating a foundational story and manipulating characters to reflect model subjects, Vela was able to promote an ideal Bourbon society where monarch-vassal relations were redefined, natives were given a societal role and traditionally powerful sectors of society were limited in their authoritative scope.