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The Ring of General Macias Vs Marked (Carmen Taffola)

Updated on December 27, 2008


The Ring of General Macias versus Marked                       

          Throughout history, man has formulated innumerable questions        concerning loyalty, betrayal, and when it is justifiable to betray one’s country and beliefs. “The Ring of General Macias”, a play by Josephina Niggli, and “Marked”, a poem by CarmenTaffola create for us a world where the fine line between loyalty and betrayal is blurred.


            Both literary works impart an important moral weight to the theme mentioned earlier. For example, Raquel, the main character in “The Ring of General Macias”, is torn between two choices: whether to remain loyal to her country and government, which will eventually get her husband killed, or save her husband and live for the rest of her life in shame. Thought her husband’s life is at stake, she decides to remain true to her values and convictions, thus, killing the spies who had taken refuge in her house. At the end of the play, Raquel sits devastated, “Listening to an empty house.”

            The poem on the other hand, focuses on another aspect of the stated theme. Taffola for an instance suggests the a person should remain loyal to his ethics and convictions even if they might cost that same person his life. The speaker tells her daughter and the reader as well to, “Make your mark proud and open, brave beauty folded into its imperfection like a piece of turquoise marked.”

            Furthermore, it has been said that the author’s choice of words i.e. style reveals a great deal about his purpose in writing, attitude towards his subject, and the audience to whom he presents his work. Niggli for example, presents her play in a firm formal style which gives it a rigid style. The choice of words in the below example suggests that Andres and Cleto are an imposing threat to the government, “We are hunting for two spies. One of them is the notorious Andres de La O.”  

            On the contrary, the speaker in the other work of literature uses a combination of formal and informal style while advising her daughter and the reader as well, “Never write with pencil Mi’ja.” The style described by its simplicity, portrays the warmth of the mother’s words which gives them a dense moral weight.

            Upon the loss of a beloved husband, the playwright creates a sad mood forged out of melancholy. Marica, who is devastated by Tomas’s death says, “We can pray. And when the terrible news comes, it is no use praying anymore.” Her tone also suggests that she has lost faith and probably might commit suicide. In the middle of the play, the tone tends to a more sarcastic, slightly humorous one. This is portrayed in Raquel’s conversation with Andres, “Oh Cleto your army!” Similar to the beginning of the play, the playwright ends it with a touch of melancholy, “Nothing just listening …. Listening to an empty house.”

            On the contrary, the poem’s tone is one of seriousness and warmth, which is represented by the mother’s (the speaker’s) thoughts and admirable pieces of advice. Unlike the earlier work, the poem doesn’t portray issues of life and death in details.

            Similarly, the setting has a gigantic impact on a literary piece of work. “The Ring of General Macias” is set in Mexico City, during the revolution in April 1912. This exact time frame makes loyalty and betrayal an imposing yet crucial issue. During the war, Raquel’s husband is taken in captivity. This event raises the main conflict: Should Raquel let her emotions get to her and betray her country? Her dilemma is finally resolved at the end of the play when she decides to murder the intruders and preserve her husband’s honor.

            However, the poem which lies between our hands has no specific time and place. Its theme may be applied to any time and any place due to its universal theme. And thus, the latter work doesn’t clearly presents a conflict to be determined since the speaker jots down some pieces of advice which the reader might choose to follow.

            Above all, the characters are an essential element of drama. Raquel the major character is describe by Maria as “cold and hard” and is admired by Andres and Cleto for none of them has “ever seen a braver woman.” Also, the stage directions depict her in every single aspect, “The woman was a queenly air, and whether she is actually beautiful or not, people think she is.”

            Unlike this play, the poem is formed of a speaker (the mother) and a recipient (the reader). Its universal theme makes it hard to have any characters at all.


            As a sum up, many literary works have treated the theme of loyalty and betrayal and their colliding aspects. Yet, I recommend “The Ring of General Macias “I for those who seek adventure and live for drama. Similarly, I advice all those who are in search for their identity to read and contemplate over Taffola’s masterpiece.


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