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Gender Politics And Queen Elizabeth Essay

3058 words - 12 pages

Ortiz 11In Carole Levin's work entitled "The Heart and Stomach of a King", Levin extends her biographical research of Queen Elizabeth I to explore how role expectations, gender construction, and the merging of both politics and gender influenced Elizabeth's own self fashioning and others' perception of her as a female, Protestant, monarch. The title "The Heart and Stomach of a King", is quoted directly from her 1588 speech at Tilbury, as a proclamation of national unity as England faced a possible Spanish invasion. The title, as Levin quotes quite accurately, successfully encapsulates the paradox of a woman monarch in 16th century England. This binary symbolism had a great effect on comtemporary thought in the 16th century as well as Elizabeth's own self-fashioning as both king and queen as she purposefully projected.In western society, as Levin attests too, women are associated with the weak and incompetent, making them incapable of maintaining not only public roles but religious offices. In stating this, Elizabeth was trying to convey that although female, she was a monarch, although monarch by definition, male, kingship during this era was so unpredictable and powerful it could incorporate a female ruler. Levin argues that the desire for a king in England was astounding, in which I definitely agree. Levin delineates Elizabeth's double persona as both a male and female monarch, examining the multiple ways that gender and sexuality interacted with tradition and practices of England's sixteenth century monarchy. In Elizabeth refusing multiple marriage negotiations, and the bearing of children, she in some ways, neglected the traditional practices of what a queen entailed. The role of "monarch", although considered male, encompassed a multitude of duties, like serving as not only the body politic but as God's representative on Earth, thus making it possible for a woman to dive into the realm of "male" responsibilities. Queenship opened up a multiplicity of doors in ways never thought possible in previous years such as performing religious acts and ceremonies. However, I must protest that in some instances, Levin, too often, shapes the material to fit the thesis. In regard to the healing of the "king's evil" (16), Levin states ``One can see, however, the gendered nature of the way she approached these ceremonies,'' (17) although Elizabeth doesn't seem to have acted differently from her male predecessors. Similarly, it is no surprise that there is undoubtedly a sexual double standard as to the sexual escapades of a male and female ruler. Alongside the fact, I believe there was no need for a full chapter to convince the reader that Elizabeth's "wantonness"(66) reflected the public's turbulence with a female monarch. Despite this, Elizabeth's strategic ways of presenting herself, whether it be through the iconic persona of the Virgin Mary, or through healing rituals, Levin appropriately traces how Elizabeth was able to transcend gender barriers and...

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