Patriotism vibrates in the very souls of those characters whose stories are offshoots of our roots as a people. How many people like doña Zore, doña Marta, and doña Gabriela have lived in our cities and countryside? These protagonists directly symbolize the land itself, that motherland that has watched her sons die, who has wept to see their untrammeled ambition. They are a historical reflection of a past that time has projected onto the present day; long-suffering victims of a past/present that daily vexes the
Patriotic sentiment also leads to pain in the face of abandonment, neglect, rejection, and marginalization. Angela Santoni Vincent (Los ángeles se han fatigado), María (Cristal roto en el tiempo), and Inés (Los soles truncos) suffer from the same anguish. They fight against their worst enemy, time. United by a calamitous fate and by the opprobrium of society, they are creatures prostituted by the negative circumstances of the present in which they are trapped. The dramaticdramatic: Pertaining to the drama. power of these women projects the patriotic pain of their creators. They are noble beings seduced by social hypocrisy or by ambition. They represent a people overwhelmed by neglect, forgotten and alienated by historical circumstances. They want to stop the flow of events in a present time that signifies their moral destruction as human beings, as a people. Inés, faced with a cruel fate and the utter loss of the only things of value that time had left to her, cleanses her soul. Suicide is the means of salvation in Los soles truncos by René Marqués.
Patriotism also lives dramatically in Mariana Bracetti (Brazo de Oro and Mariana, or El alba) and in Antígona Pérez (La pasión según Antígona Pérez). Their lives in the past — in history (Mariana Bracetti) and in mythology (Antígona Pérez) — give strength to their stage presence. Mariana Bracetti, in both texts, follows the established pattern for the history or the legend of the Puerto Rican heroine. Likewise Antígona Pérez, victim of the tyrannical power of a man named Creon, must suffer to fulfill the duty imposed upon her by her rights. Mariana Bracetti, a figure taken from history, embodies the future hopes of her literary creators. The death of Antígona Pérez serves the same purposes of redemption and hope. Both women struggle to educate their people, yearning to see their ideals penetrate the consciousness of those who make up their nation, a nation that has been trampled and enslaved by despotic governments.
The protagonists we have mentioned press upon us their needs and concerns not solely as women, but rather as human beings. They are people indwelt by the fatherland, and their outcry in its defense is instinctive:
"Our fatherland is perhaps the greatest thing we possess. It is that tree that sheltered our play when we were children. It is the heavens that spread their protective mantle over our daily lives. It is the river that nourishes our dreams. It is the flower whose scent caresses our awakenings. The Fatherland lives in the merry song of the nightingale, in the air that we breathe, in the sun that warms us each morning, in the moon that veils the romance between two lovers, in a kiss from a woman who knows in the very depths of her soul that she is a mother". Patriotism is, as summarized by Alejandrina (Donde reinan las arpías by Antonio García del Toro), a sentiment, an impulse that, like passion, disturbs one's spirit.
Woman and fatherland are both fundamental elements of Puerto Rican drama. Whether consciously or not, each playwright participates in a redemptive experience. The playwright's desire is to release the female figure from the obscurity and anonymity that constituted her role during the early years of Puerto Rican literature. At the same time, the dramatist sees in the woman a figure whose humanity is custom-made for symbolically projecting the social and political situation of her people. Prominent authors acknowledge, in their texts, the importance of the woman as the personification of all human beings engaged in the struggle to maintain their position within humankind. It is that very élan vital, which women have been obliged to foster throughout their existence, that our writers exteriorize when they project their patriotic sentiments by means of the figure of a woman as the protagonist of their texts for the theater.
Autor: Dr. Antonio García Del Toro
Published: September 30, 2008.
Version: 06100217 Rev. 1