I’m looking for an adjective that means the person described has the power to choose their own actions, rather than being someone else’s puppet. Potent is the closest I’ve come but it’s not right.
The context is a reaction I’m writing to the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s account of the Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España (meaning the “True History of the Conquest of New Spain”), in which he describes certain actions on the part of La Malinche, a Nahua woman who served Hernán Cortés as interpreter and concubine, and was a Christian convert. The discussion is about how realistic Díaz’s portrayal is, specifically regarding a passage where Cortés’s party visits the town where Malinche had been given by her family to human traffickers years earlier, and Díaz, retelling the events 50 years later, says Malinche forgave them, gave them unreasonably fine gifts, and sets for them a Christian example of devotion to her new Spanish husband (not Cortés, someone else), no doubt with proselytizing intent.
What I’d like to say with a single adjective is something that conveys autonomy on her part, independence, initiative, freedom from the influence of the soldiers she came with. Is there a word related to “possessing agency” which fills in this blank?
I’m not generally a cynical person but regarding the Conquistadors and the Church, you don’t even have to be cynical to recognize that they embellished their writing, and Christianizing an Indian woman and making her out to be more pure, forgiving, and _______________ than realistic makes the Spaniards look good.
Words which don’t fit because they either don’t capture the whole connotation or are too tortured to sound reasonable include: autonomous, potent, vital, independent, self-actualized, agency-having, and so on.