Date of Award

Fall 2019

Project Type

Departmental Honors Paper/Project


Department of English


Pocahontas is a figure with much cultural capital, even today, and her influence was historically important to Native and European agendas alike. Pocahontas as a person indeed had a life that seemed to influence political relations between Native and European (specifically Powhatan, specifically English). However, the storied construct of Pocahontas has had significantly more cultural sway, influencing (or at least representing changes in) everything from gendered power dynamics to the interplay between the European Colonizer and the Indigenous Other.1 Pocahontas’ image has been re-appropriated over and over throughout time to further political agendas and to represent the female and the Other. To this end, Pocahontas has been variously represented as the innocent, the “little wanton” rebel, the oppressed Native woman, the erotic exotic, the empowered political powerhouse and combinations of all of these archetypes. To focus this project, I will analyze four plays in the first half of the 19th century, each of which present Pocahontas as various even in her identities as female and Native.