Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz: A Biography

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Born in the early 1650s

In the area of San Miguel Nepantla; thus in Mexico, Mexico, Juana Inés de la Cruz's is considered as one of the most compelling self-taught scholars, philosopher, Baroque school poet, Hieronymite nun, author as well as feminist during the 17th century Hispanic world. Generally, Sor Juana rose as a religious woman who forged a somewhat unique path; thus as a writer based primarily on her convictions as opposed to models as well as precedents. From her early years up to modern-day world, historians, readers, inclusive of literary critics have been extremely fascinated by Sor Juana’s strident resistant to numerous attempts to not only limit her studies but also her writing (Juana Inés de la Cruz, 2016). As a nun, Sor Juana wrote what is considered as history’s first feminist manifesto and is often revered as one of the prodigies and ultimately one of the most widely published authors of her time. This paper provides a detailed biography of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz as well as her life achievements.

Reasons for Choosing Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

One of the primary reasons for choosing Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is due to the fact that she was a self-taught scholar, staunch women’s right advocate as well as acclaimed writer of the Hispanic Baroque as well as the Latin American colonial period ((Merrim, 1999). Generally, she is considered as the last greatest writer; thus of the Hispanic Baroque and ultimately the first great exemplar with regard to the Colonial Mexican culture.

Another reason for choosing Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is because in the contemporary world, she is highly celebrated as the seat of both knowledge and reason. Concerning this, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz stands a somewhat national icon of the Mexico as well as the Mexican identity, as a national icon, in 1995, her name was inscribed in the wall of honor which is placed in the Mexican congress. Moreover, she is also pictured; thus on the obverse or rather on the front of the 200 pesos bill which was issued by the Bank of Mexico also termed as “Banco de Mexico” (Carpenter, 2017). In addition, Sor Juana’s image also adorns the 1000 pesos coin which was minted by Mexico between the years of 1988 and 1992. Today owing to her fame, her former cloister/ monastery; located in the historic Centre of Mexico City, where she resided for most of her life time as well as wrote most of her literary works was transformed into the University of the Cloister of Sor Juana; a center for higher learning.

Another primary reason for choosing Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is because of my rising interest in not only feminism but also women’s writing. Concerning this, Sor Juana one history’s greatest feminist. Generally, she rose to new prominence particularly in the late 20th century when she officially became accredited as history’s first published feminist; thus of the New World, as well as the most outstanding female writer of the Spanish America during the colonial period (Merrim, 1999). What I find extremely intriguing about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz is the fact that despite experiencing attacks by the Catholic Church she managed to surpass all religious opinions that condemned her particularly for her literary achievement (Cherry, 2018). Furthermore, although her efforts or rather actions were extremely controversial, Sor Juana managed to create both literature and poetry that to a great extent celebrate the knowledge as well as the reasoning of women. Therefore, she is admirable as she succeeded under extremely hostile circumstances; thus in developing what can be termed as a “room for herself” as a result, she remains avidly read and extremely meaningful to the contemporary world.

I first came across Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz in the 200 pesos bill and after enquiring her name from my parents who also narrated a brief history of Sor Juana. However, since Sor Juana has been the inspiration for a vast number of filmmakers, my knowledge of her was further elevated by the television series termed as “Juana Inés,” produced in Mexico which is available on Netflix.

Biography of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Early Years

Originally born as originally termed as Juan Inés Ramirez de Asbaje, Sor Juana was a precocious child at an early age. Generally, Sor Juana spent most of her childhood years on the hacienda owned by her grandfather where she managed to feed her precocious intellectual appetite by engaging in extensive reading her grandfather’s library books (Poets Org., n.d). As a result, she reputedly learnt to not only read but also write by the about of about three years and by the time she attained the nine Sor Juana was well versed in Latin (Juana Inés de la Cruz, 2016).

Owing to her family’s connections, Sor Juana moved to Mexico City where her lively intellect to a great extent attracted the attention of the court circles and as a result, Marquise and Leonor Carreto later introduced her to the court in 1664; thus as a “lady-in waiting” (Juana Inés de la Cruz, 2016). Later Sor Juana managed join the Carmelite Convenant located in San Jose before leaving approximately three months later due to the presence of rigid disciple. Later in about 1669, out of her desire to pursue further studies as well as her repugnance at the institution of marriage, Sor Juana moved to the Order of St. Jérôme covenant located in Mexico City where she became a Hieronymite novice and nun (Poets Org., n.d). During her early years at the covenant, Sor Juana went on to amass a very impressive library, wrote poetry, religious comedies and dramas such as “Love is More a Labyrinth” including “Pawns of a House”. She also collected various musical as well as scientific instruments. In addition, Sor Juana also wrote a number of literary works on different religious topics like “The Dream”, moreover, she also published Vilancious; thus for Mexico City’s Metropolitan Church (Juana Inés de la Cruz, 2016).

Life Achievements/ Major Influences

The most fruitful period; thus with regard to Sor Juana’s literary began as early as 1680. Concerning this, Sor Juana’s success was first marked by the success and admiration her Villancicos (Carols); thus for the Metropolitan Church. Owing to this, she was selected in 1680 as the designers of one of triumphal arches which were to be erected along the festive route which the viceroy; thus the Marquis of Laguna would be received. Undoubtedly this was such as honor and achievement given not only her youth but also her gender (Juana Inés de la Cruz, 2016). Due to her rising fame, round 1682 Sor Juana participated in a competition held at the Royal University of Mexico under a pseudonym where she worn two prizes as a result of her creative poems. In 1985, she wrote the what is considered as her master piece poem termed as “El Primero Sueno, translated to First Dream” this philosophical as well as metaphysical poem however, was not published until 1692.

It was during this period that Sor Juana through a letter heavily criticized a famous Jesuit sermon, following this, the letter was together with another letter from “Sor Filota” which in, turn criticized her due to her lack of “serious religious content” in all her poems were published. Later Sor Juana’s reply to the “Sor Filotea” became the historical “Respuesta a Sor Filotea” which over the years has been regarded or rather hailed as the first feminist manifesto. In the reply Sor Juana greatly defended/demanded among other things the right to education for all women (Poets Org., n.d). Sor Juana also wrote several villancicos about St Catherine which to a great extent were written in more of a feminist tone as opposed to a religious one. In an effort to advance the theme of feminism, the used strong, brave, as well as intelligent women characters in her literary works as she did not consider women during her time to be inferior to men which was a common notion (Vanderbilt University, n.d). As a result of her string stance of women’s rights, Sor Juana is generally is generally considered to be the first historical feminist author; thus published in the New World, owing to this, she is still honored in Mexico in the 21st century.


Cherry, K. (2018). Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Nun who loved a countess in 17th-century Mexico City. Qspirit. Retrieved from;

Carpenter, J. (2017). A History of Women on World Currency. Cable News Network. Retrived from;

Merrim, S. (1999). Feminist Perspectives on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Latin American literature and culture series. Wayne State University Press. Retrieved from;

Juana Inés de la Cruz. (2016). Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Selected Works (International Student Edition) (Norton Critical Editions). Translated by Edith Grossman. W. W. Norton & Company. Retrieved from;

Poets.Org. (n.d). Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Retrieved from;

Vanderbilt University. (n.d.). Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Center for Latin American Studies=. Retrieved from:

November 24, 2023


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