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Queen Elizabeth I Represented in Movies

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1. Introduction
"I am called the Virgin Queen. Unmarried, I have no master. Childless, I am mother to my people. I am the queen, I am myself."

This quote from the movie “Elizabeth: The Golden Age“ describes the fascination about Elizabeth I of England in few sentences. A woman, who could prevail in a male-dominated society. A woman, who waived her own fortune for the sake of her subjects. A woman, who influences the national pride of the English even today. So it is not surprising that there is plenty of literature, opera and movies about Elizabeth I. The following term paper examines three movies, where Elizabeth I is the protagonist. “Elizabeth“, with Cate Blanchett in the leading role, is about the days of her youth. The 1998 movie shows the development of a young princess, who was crowned after the death of her half sister Maria. The first years of her reign are very turbulent, because the creation of a Protestant Church by her father Henry VIII and the return to Catholicism under Maria split the nation. The inexperienced Elizabeth has to determine which religion should be the official one in order to prevent a civil war. Meanwhile her consultants give her advice to keep the line of succession by marriage. But to whom shall she entrust her heart and kingdom? At the end of the movie all problems are solved and Elizabeth creates the icon of the “virgin queen“. Nine years later, the sequel of the movie from 1998, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age“ was released. She is in her 26th year of reign and still without descendants. In spite of many men who wish to marry her, she refuses entering into the bond of marriage. Only the sailor Sir Walter Raleigh attracts her attention. Inside England, the reign of Elizabeth is threatened by an intrigue of her cousin Maria Stuart, the sovereign of Scotland. Philipp of Spain sees the execution of Maria Stuart as a provocation against the Catholic Church and as a result, he goes to war against England with his Armada. After the victory over Spain Elizabeth


realises, that she has to supress her own needs for the sake of her nation. In opposite of these two movies, which weren´t released a long time ago, “ The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex“ with Bette Davis of 1939, was chosen for this term paper. It tells the story of the relationship between Elizabeth and Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. The power-hungry Essex goes to war against England after a defeat in Ireland and arrests the Queen. He demands the throne but by stealth Elizabeth can arrest him and condemn him to death. She hopes that he will apologize after all to spare him from dying, but he is stubborn. He would always try to ascend the throne, so the Queen would never be safe of his intrigues. With head held high he goes to his execution while Elizabeth remains lonely and embittered. These movies are the basis of the research and by reference to them, the following questions are answered: • What is so fascinating about the person Elizabeth? Why is she chosen as the subject for movies for decades? • Which topics are covered? Is there a main topic in all three movies? Have the contents changed in the course of years? Are there reasons for this? • How is she represented in the movies? Which personality is shown?

For answering these questions, the movies above are analysed and articles, reviews and my own reflections are used. As there is not much literature about this topic, this research is based on the method of analysis of films. First, the myth of Queen Elizabeth I is examined and for this purpose, the historical outline of the development and changing of this myth is explained. In addition, the effort is made to find an explanation for the creation of the myth. A general overview of the representation shows, that filmmakers were interested in the person Elizabeth very early. Already in 1912, Elizabeth, represented by Sarah Bernhardt in “The Loves of the Queen“, could be watched in the cinema. From then on the topic “Elizabeth“ was thematised again and again until today. Only the last years the series “The Virgin Queen“ with Anne Marie Duff in 2005, the


TV movie “Elizabeth I“ with Helen Mirren in 2006 and the feature “Elizabeth: The Golden Age“ with Cate Blanchett in 2007 were produced. After the personality of Elizabeth I in the movies has been analysed, they are compared to each other with a focus on the personality and the differences and similarities are demonstrated. Finally there is the conclusion where the questions asked above are answered.

2. The origin of “The Myth of Elizabeth I“

With Elizabeth I, virginity, Protestantism and the victory over the Spanish Armada is associated. This opinion is suggested above all by the plenty of movies about her. Many actresses like Sarah Bennet, Bette Davis, Flora Robson, Agnes Moorehead, Jean Simmons, Glenda Jackson, Cate Blanchett, Helen Mirren and Judi Dench acted as Elizabeth I. All these movies did not create a myth about her, but they only continued it. She is also represented in many narratives, historic novels, dramas, and operas and like it is said above, in movies.

2.1 Definition of a myth

The term “myth“ is defined as a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society . A historical myth is defined as an interpretation of historical happenings. The truth of these interpretations are not important, but the attempt to find an explanation for these happenings.


2.2 The historical background of the myth about Elizabeth I

The common image of Elizabeth I as “The Virgin Queen“, the glorious defender of the Anglican Church and the architect of the British Empire is also a myth. This myth was propagated because it is a declaration and justification for English nationalism, the imperialism and the Anglican Church with its anti-Catholicism. Although it is centuries old, the myth of Elizabeth I and its revival is a matter of the 20th century. It is not a coincidence that the interest in this myth was awakened in 1930, when mass media like cinema and radio were used to create popular icons (DORAN 3). Roy Strong thinks, that a cult was created about Elizabeth I in 1570. According to him it was a planned strategy, which should strengthen her power and the reformation (STRONG Gloriana 34), (STRONG The Cult 16). The cult about her was the first step of the later myth. Not before the reign of her successor James I did the real idealisation and adoration emerge. As said before, there was a cult about her when Elizabeth was still alive. The intention for this was to get influence in her policy. If somebody was satisfied with the current situation, he or she praised the monarch with poems, songs or prayers. But they were not only used for glorification, but also to criticise the reign or injustices. Edward Spenser used this type of criticism in his poem "The Faerie Queene (DORAN and THOMAS 56). He wishes a reform of the English Church. Under James I, the son of Maria Stuart and Elizabeth´s successor, there were two complete different images of Elizabeth. On one side she is a political and pragmatic sovereign, who dislikes religious extremism. And on the other side she is the queen of the victory over the opposite armies. In William Camden´s " Annales" there is an image of her, which is known until today. She is shown as prudish, wise and pacifistic, but also as cold-hearted and unlikable. When the Latin text was translated into English, there were mistakes. After that she was described in a nicer way than in the original. (DORAN and THOMAS 6). The climax of the cult about her was under the reign of the Stuarts. One of the reasons for the success was the combination of her different


images. But this connection caused also negative aspects. As a woman she had so many male virtues, that she wasn´t able to have any femininity (9) Her gender was a crucial factor of the creation of the myth. Female reign was unattractive, because it went against the patriarchal and political order. Her gender didn´t hinder her to reign, but it was a burden. One of her ways to hide supposed weakness was simulating the role of the traditional image of women, like the image of the mother, the nun or the mistress (LEVIN 67) The other way was simulating the role of men, like the leading of soldiers, the speech in Tilbury and the victory over the Spanish Armada, which is shown in the movie “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”: “My loving people. We see the sails of the enemy approaching. We hear the Spanish guns over the water. Soon now, we will meet them face-to-face. I am resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all. While we stand together no invader shall pass. Let them come with the armies of Hell; they will not pass! And when this day of battle is ended, we meet again in heaven or on the field of victory.“ One of the main obligations was to maintain the line of succession. As it wasn´t sure that she would not marry, she was represented in paintings as a protestant sovereign. Only after the negotiations with the Duke of D'Anjou, the icon of the "Virgin Queen" was introduced, because after that it was expected that she would never marry (HACKETT 102). First negative images about Elizabeth appeared already when she was alive and under the reign of James I. One of them was, that Elizabeth was a persecutor of the Catholics, because hundreds of them were executed under her reign. Another one was the image of her supposedly promiscuity. The reason for that was the affection to Robert Dudley. Even in the last year of her reign, when she was too old to get pregnant and after the death of the Earl of Leicester, those rumours were circulated. These images influenced hardly her myth. They were not adequate to the established image of a successful and intelligent sovereign. Two happenings of the reign of Elizabeth strengthened this image. The destruction of the Spanish Armada was one of these powerful happenings. The nationalism and imperialism increased. Even in the book "Oxford History of England" she is mentioned as saying "She left behind her a kingdom that had won a commanding position among the great powers of Europe" (BLACK 1). The term "Elizabethan Age", which is connected to wealth, cultural


boom, optimism and military success, contributed to the myth of her. The memory of her mistakes, her crises and problems of her 45 years of reign were forgotten after the destruction of the Armada. The execution of Maria Stuart was the second happening, which was part of the myth of Elizabeth. These two women were enemies to each other. Maria represents Catholicism and tradition, while Elizabeth represents Protestantism and progress. This difference was portrayed on many paintings. While Elizabeth is shown in these paintings with the Armada, Maria is shown with the defeat in Langside. Elizabeth is always shown as a queen, but there are only quite a few paintings where Maria is shown as a monarch (STRONG Gloriana 80). The mystical Elizabeth is the simplified version of the historical one. The myth of her is as interesting as the historical queen and has the same importance. It says a lot of the individuals and societies, which created it. Every age reconstructs the past on the basis of prejudices and bias. Nowadays the topics religion and nationalism in connection with Elizabeth is only hardly regarded, because the focus is on her gender.

3. Elizabeth I represented in movies

Sarah Bernhardt was the first actress who was Elizabeth I in the movie "The Loves of the Queen", which was released in 1912. This movie consists of many of the topics, which are shown in later "Elizabeth-films". It influenced all the later movies in the representation and emphasis of the court. The setting is almost only in the royal premises, like as it is as in "The private Life of Elizabeth and Essex" and in "Elizabeth". The myth of Elizabeth started when she came to the throne. She didn´t only have to cope with legitimisation problems, but also with prejudices about her gender. Has she been the "Virgin Queen" or has she been a temptress? These two opportunities are reflected in the movies over and over again, for example "Mary, Queen of Scots" from 1971. In this movie


Maria Stuart upgraded her own needs over reign, while her cousin Elizabeth is unhappy because she has no man or children. Her gender is always thematised in the movies: A woman in a male role in her relationship between femininity and power. Almost in every movie of Elizabeth I there are scenes where she destroys mirrors or her court ladies dress her. This shows that she is always watched because she is a monarch. The destruction of mirrors is an act of anger, because she is caught in her role of the monarch and she can´t fulfil her true female desires. In "Elizabeth", the identity of the virgin queen at the end of the movie is in opposite to her previous femininity. In addition, in this movie there is the effort of "historical correctness", which is shown with the introducing words and the dresses of the Queen. All the movies about her have influence of historical knowledge. That means, that she is represented in the movies like she is represented in historical books at that time. Sarah Bernhardt´s Elizabeth is portrayed as she is described in literature in the early 20th century. For example Arthur D. Inns wrote in "England under the Tudors" in 1911, that every mistake of Elizabeth is because of her gender (INNES 427). He describes her as a conceited, unpredictable woman, who only likes to get compliments. But the representation changed with the role of women in society. Glenda Jackson, whose role is a product of the liberal humanistic femininity can´t be compared to the Cate Blanchett´s Elizabeth, who is representing a "post-feminist girl-power queen" (BETTERIDGE 248). Below the movies "The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex", "Elizabeth" and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" are shortly analysed in the aspect of how Elizabeth is represented in the movie.


3.1 "The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex", 1939

Queen Elizabeth of England is 63 years old by this time. She falls in love in Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, who is almost 33 years younger than her. It looks that way that she is nearly obsessed with him, because all of her thoughts and actions depend on him. Every argument with him is very stressful for her, because she knows the huge age difference and is afraid about losing his love. Also the aging process and the decay of her beauty bothers her that much, that she has every mirror removed, so that she is not remind of her age. She is fully aware of the fact, that her lovers are only attracted to her because of the position as a queen and she won´t be able to live a life of a normal woman. In the movie it is expressed with these words: “To be a Queen is to be less than human, to put pride before desire, to search Men's hearts for tenderness, and find only ambition. To cry out in the dark for one unselfish voice, to hear only the dry rustle of papers of state. To turn to one's beloved with stars for eyes and have him see behind me only the shadow of the executioner's block. A queen has no hour for love, time presses, and events crowd upon her, and her shell, an empty glittering husk, she must give up all the a woman holds most dear.“ (The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex 00:04:06 – 00:26:34) In this sequence she is shown as a woman, who wishes nothing more than a man, who loves her because of her personality. She wants to have family, but deep inside she knows that she won´t be able to have one. Family is the natural and worthwhile goal of a female person in that film. Elizabeth has as a woman many problems in the function of a sovereign. For example, there is a dialogue between her and one of her court ladies, where she says, " Being a queen means being less than a human" and " A woman as a queen has to give up everything important". These should support a conservative image of femininity: the biggest wish of a woman is having a family, a husband and children. Elizabeth is as a queen in an unnatural position and because of this, she cannot be happy. In every situation she has to play a role and she cannot be herself, so she is not able to act on her feelings. The mirrors in her palace remind her of that fact and her age, so she has every mirror removed. But she does not hide every time her own feelings. Her love to Essex is authentic, but they are not enough for her,


because their relationship is hopeless. The only opportunity to solve this problem is marriage, but she refuses. So it is unavoidable, that Essex chooses death in the end of the movie. A queen remains, whose secret desire will never be fulfilled (GENTRUP 117). Essex is represented as the pure masculinity, and whenever he comes to the court, you can feel his presence. As the queen is only active when Essex is present, it seems that she is unable to react without him. The movie pretends to be authentic, but it strengthens the image of a historical queen, who does not match in the circumstances of society at that time.

3.2 "Elizabeth", 1998

Elizabeth is at the beginning of her reign only 25 years old. She is an attractive young woman, who has already experienced many dangerous situations. When Maria was still the


Queen of England, Elizabeth was arrested for treason in the Tower of London. Even when she is arrested, she shows her royal dignity. Her head is always held high and her pose confident. People have respect for a woman, who is arrested in the Tower of London and enters a hall still with her head raised. But there is also awe, because it becomes obvious that Maria will die soon and Elizabeth will be the successor to the throne. A protestant, whose mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed, will become the next Queen of England. She is aware of the relevance of marriage, but she knows that she cannot follow her heart and marry Robert Dudley. She is confronted with this issue over and over again by her consultants. It is on the spot repeatedly, but she never wants to marry. This engenders criticism against her by the bishops of England. She is criticised in the first place as a sovereign, but secretly it is criticism against her as a woman. It was the common opinion, that the purpose of a woman is to marry and give birth to children, and in that case, finding a husband to maintain the line of succession. However, she decides to spend the rest of her live as a “virgin”. She has her hair cut like a nun, her face made up in white and put a wedding dress on. She wants to show that she is not unwedded anymore, but married to England. (Elizabeth 01:49:33 – 01:53:45) "Elizabeth" can be described as a self-reflective, nostalgic and sceptic movie, but it also shows the role of a woman from a present-day perspective. In this film Elizabeth is a historical character, an analysed and studied object. It shows how she becomes a queen and at the end there is the media icon, which reminds viewers of the beginning of the movie. In the last scenes becomes Elizabeth to Elizabeth of history. Blanchett continues the tradition of Davis and Bernhardt, as she is conflicted in her role as the Queen and the desire of a normal life. She has to deny all of her personal wishes, to fulfil the needs of society. The movie displays an obvious difference between the court of Elizabeth and the court of Maria. While Maria´s court is dark and gloomy, Elizabeth´s has a bright and friendly atmosphere. The colours, which are used, emphasise this fact as well. The court of Maria is mostly shown in a brown colour, and she herself is dressed in dark ones. In opposite to this, Elizabeth is represented in the first scene dancing in the nature. Her ginger hair, the green dress and the green field in the background illustrate a young and dynamic image of her. In the end, there is this profound statement, when the connection to "The private lives of


Elizabeth and Essex" becomes apparent. The sacrifice of own needs is shown as a heroic action. The conflict between public representation and the expected role of a woman is the basis of Cate Blanchett´s Elizabeth.

3.3 "Elizabeth: The Golden Age", 2007

Elizabeth´s appearance did not really change in comparison to the movie “Elisabeth”. She looks still very young, although she is 53 years old. Only her behaviour seems more mature and determined. She is not the young, inexperienced queen anymore, but a mature woman, who accepts the role as a monarch. She is friends with the court ladies, above all with Elizabeth Throckmorton, also called Beth. She is even the closest confidante of the Queen. When Walter Raleigh comes to court, not only the Queen is fascinated about him. Beth is also attracted to him. Elizabeth spends a lot of time with Raleigh, where they have conversations and where she feels young again. There are still many men, who wants to marry her, but she accepted the fact that she won´t marry and won´t having children. But, when Raleigh and Beth marry and Beth gets pregnant, Elizabeth is very upset. She is so full of wrath, that she arrests him and bans Beth from the court. She can´t take it that someone in her closest surrounding marries and gets pregnant, because deep inside she still desires a husband and children. Her nation experiences her not only as a representative of monarchy,


but also as a active queen, who would be the martyr of her folk. As a woman, a caring mother, a political monarch or as a defender of the country, Cate Blanchett shows many different faces of Queen Elizabeth. This movie reminds the viewers in many cases of the previous movie "Elizabeth". The colours are intentionally staged again: Elizabeth wears bright colours, but if there is an important or dangerous event, the colours change into dark and impressive ones. In order to support the victory against the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth and Philip are alternately shown. The candle, which you can see at the beginning of the film, goes out as a symbol of the defeat. The priests and his daughter turn their back on him, while victorious Elizabeth takes a long view over the war zone. Dressed with a long, white dress and with the impressing surroundings, she appears superhumanly. Although Elizabeth decided to be a "Virgin Queen" in the previous movie, the conflict between monarch and woman appears one more time. She falls in love with Walter Raleigh and is disappointed again, because he marries her confidante Beth without her permission. Only when she denies her role as a woman again, she has luck. Now she is not the "Virgin Queen" anymore, but the “Mother of the Nation”. The last words of her in the movie describe this accepted role as mother of England: "I am called the Virgin Queen. Unmarried, I have no master. Childless, I am mother to my people. I am the queen, I am myself." (Elizabeth: The Golden Age 01:41:03). The baby in her arm supports this image in a symbolic way.


3.4 Comparison of the three movies

Although the movies have different historical happenings, the main conflict of the character does not change. In each of the movies Elizabeth is torn between her role as a woman and as a queen, and the love story of Elizabeth and her lovers is one of the most important actions. In “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” she is shown as an enamoured reign, which is angry about the acting of her lover. In “Elizabeth” she is portrayed as a young, dynamic princess. “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” represents her as an intelligent queen, who cares about her nation. In spite of the different representations, a similar image of her becomes apparent. In each film there are particular elements of action: First, she has always a lover, who satisfies her needs of love and desire, and jealousy matters a lot, because she doesn´t want to share her lover with another woman. Second, she gets disappointed in every movie: In “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” Robert Devereux wants to mount the throne and becomes a threat against her. In “Elizabeth” Robert Dudley belongs to one of the conspirators, who want to topple the government. As well in the second part, “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, her desires are not fulfilled, because Walter Raleigh marries her confidante Beth. In every movie there are endearments shown, which are limited to kisses, except in “Elizabeth”. Robert visits her in her bedchamber and sleeps with her, so she knows every facet of love. Now she can focus on her obligations of a queen, without missing the experience of sexuality. The expression “virgin” is interpreted in a different way in that film. It means a life of a woman without a husband. Disappointed of love, she realises in the end of every movie, that she has to waive her own needs in order to perform her function as a monarch. In the end of “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” she is represented as a lonely queen, in “Elizabeth” as the “Virgin Queen” and in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” as the mother of nation. Every single ending shows another historical image about the person Elizabeth. Because of these movies, the myth about her continues and is


also interesting for people, who are not interested in academic literature. The myths, which originated in the 16th century, are interpreted and continued in a new way, above all in “Elizabeth”. She is not a virgin anymore, because she spent a night with her lover Robert Dudley, nevertheless she becomes the “Virgin Queen”, who reigns England without a husband. But you do not have to ignore the fact, that the historical images about Elizabeth in movies are often exaggerated, in order to show a more exciting and interesting one. The moviemakers use commonly the most recent scientific literature for these films, but they have always a subjective imagination about Elizabeth, which creates a new image in every movie. Therefore, the myth about her person goes on and on.

4. Conclusion

In this term paper the representation of Elizabeth I in selected movies was examined. These movies are “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex”, “Elizabeth”, and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”. In this way the change of the representation of her could be analysed. Referring to the questions asked in the introduction, the results of this paper are presented again. What is so fascinating about the person Elizabeth? Why is she chosen as the subject for movies for decades?

Elizabeth fascinates the people not just since the representation in movies. Already in her lifetime they were impressed about her, because she had this unusual position as a female sovereign. Indeed, in the 16th they were used to female monarchs, but usually they were married. Women did not make great decisions, but they had the job as a good mother and spouse.


Whereas Elizabeth remained unmarried, she was stylised as the “Virgin Queen”. This image was supported and spread by her. Also after her death the glorification was maintained, above all the image of the victorious Queen and political reign. Because of her victory over the Spanish Armada, she is remembered especially in periods of crisis. She influenced the national pride of the English like none other. By her conflictual and extraordinary life and the myth about her, she is a interesting person, whose life is therefore thematised in many movies.

Which topics are covered? Is there a main topic in all three movies? Have the contents changed in the course of years? Are there reasons for this?

The movie “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” established already 1939 the topics, which are represented in every following film about Elizabeth. In this movie, where Bette Davis acts her, she is an elder woman who desires love and passion. The relationship to Robert Devereux is characterized by love and contention. Although she knows, that this affair will come to a sad end, she is unable to brake up with him. She notices only in the end of the movie her duty to her country. Before, she changes between her role as a queen and loving woman back and forth. This theme is also highlighted in the features “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”. In the first of these both, “Elizabeth”, Cate Blanchett chooses only after the treason of Robert Dudley the role as a queen. Also in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, she gets disappointed by her lover Walter Raleigh. He marries her closest confidante Elizabeth Throckmorten. But after all, she chooses England and not the disappointing love in each movie. Because of that, she is conventionalized as an icon: In “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” she becomes a lonely reign, in “Elizabeth” she becomes the “Virgin Queen” and in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” the “Mother of the Nation”. She is repeatedly shown when she looks in the mirror. This element is used to point that she is never alone and thinks about the aging process, and is afraid of getting old and being not


attractive enough anymore for her lover. Cate Blanchett´s Elizabeth, who represents in the movie “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” a later period of her life, is still presented young and beautiful. The reason for this is probably today´s handling with the aging process and its callomania. Another topic, which is always issued, is the representation of Elizabeth as a political reign in a conversation with her consultants. In “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex” she is hardly interested in politics. Opposed to this, she is shown in the other two movies as a politically active monarch. This is justified by the new image of women in the last decades. Although all three movies are about different periods of Elizabeth´s life, they have close similarities in their representation of her.

How is she represented in the movies? Which personality is shown?

She is mostly represented as a loving woman who desires love, a husband and children. In the movie of 1939, she yearns for the love of Robert Devereux, although she humiliates him several times, for example because of the deeds of Cadiz. But she wishes nothing more than reconciliation with him. She wants her lover to be in her presence all the time, and because of this she wants to save him from the war in Scotland. There is a different image of her in “Elizabeth”: Above all it shows the development of a young woman to a confident monarch. She is in love as well, but her thoughts and actions are not influenced by the love to her darling. In “Elizabeth-The Golden Age” she is represented as a mature and experienced queen, who has to manage the dangers which threatens her reign. Maria Stuart pretends to the throne of England and conspires against Elizabeth. When she realises that, she has to execute Maria. But she finds it difficult to kill a monarch and lags until the end. So she is a queen, which decides consciously. This is shown very well in this dialogue between her and Sir Walter Raleigh:


Queen Elizabeth I: Are you here to tell me I must murder a Queen? Sir Walter Raleigh: I would never presume to tell my Queen what to do. Only you know where your duty lies. Queen Elizabeth I: Was it my father's duty to murder my mother? She was a Queen, for a time. Oh, I would be loath to die such so bloody a death. Sir Walter Raleigh: Since when were you so afraid? Queen Elizabeth I: I'm always afraid. Sir Walter Raleigh: Kill a Queen and all Queens are mortal. We mortals have many weaknesses: we feel too much, hurt too much, all too soon we die, but we do have the chance of love. Queen Elizabeth I: Do we? I have given England my life. Must she also have my soul? (Elizabeth: The Golden Age 01:12:44 – 01:13:37) As already mentioned, there is a stylisation of an icon in each movie, which is aware to every viewer because of the creation of the myth. Regardless whether she is represented as a lonely reign, a virgin queen or as the “Mother of Nation”, summarising it can be said that there is still a fascination about Elizabeth and people want to hear stories about her, like in the plenty of books about her person, as well as in the plenty of movies, which were released in the course of decades.


Works Cited

Primary Sources
The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex. Dir. Michael Curtiz. Screenplay by Aenas McKenzie. 1939. Warner Home Video, 2005. DVD. Elizabeth. Dir. Shekhar Kapur. Screenplay by Michael Hirst. 1998. Universal Studios, 2005. DVD. Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Dir. Shekhar Kapur. Screenplay by Michael Hirst and William Nicholson. 2007. Universal Studios, 2008. DVD.

Secondary Sources
BETTERIDGE, THOMAS: A Queen for All Seasons: Elizabeth I on Film. Quoted in DORAN, SUSAN and THOMAS FREEMAN. The myth of Elizabeth. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print. BLACK, JOHN BENNET: The reign of Elizabeth: 1558-1603. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 1963. Print. DORAN, SUSAN and THOMAS FREEMAN. The myth of Elizabeth. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print. GENTRUP, WILLIAM F. Reinventing the Middle Ages and the Renaissance: constructions of the medieval and early modern periods, Turnhout: Brepols, 1998. Print.


HACKETT, HELEN. Virgin Mother, maiden queen: Elizabeth I and the cult of the Virgin Mary. Palgrave Macmillan, 1996. Print. INNES, ARTHUR D. und OMAN, CHARLES W.C. A history of England: England under the Tudors. London: Beston Press, 1906. Print. LEVIN, CAROLE. The heart and stomach of a king: Elizabeth I and the politics of sex and power. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994. Print. STRONG, ROY C. Gloriana: The portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. New York: Pimlico, 1987. Print. STRONG, ROY C. The Cult of Elizabeth: Elizabethan portraiture and pageantry. London: Random House UK, 1999. Print.



1. Introduction 2. The origin oft he myth of Elizabeth I
2.1 Definition of a myth

1 3 3 4 6 8 9 11 13 14 18

2.2 The historical background of the myth about Elizabeth I

3. Elizabeth I represented in movies
3.1 “The private lives of Elizabeth and Essex, 1939

3.2 “Elizabeth”, 1998

3.3 “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”, 2007

3.4 Comparison of these three movies

4. Conclusion Works Cited


Declaration of Authorship

Hiermit bestätige ich, dass sich die vorliegende Arbeit selbständig verfasst und keine anderen als die angegebenen Hilfsmittel benutzt habe. Die Stelle der Arbeit, die dem Wortlaut oder dem Sinn nach anderen Werken (dazu zählen auch Internetquellen) entnommen sind, wurden unter der Angabe der Quelle kenntlich gemacht. Die Arbeit ist nicht bereits in einem anderen Seminar vorgelegt worden.




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...Queen Elizabeth I of England had a major effect on woman’s history from the time she was crowned, taking the place of her half-sister Mary in 1558. It was obvious that Elizabeth was going to learn many things about ruling a country from Mary, but it was unclear that she would take her strategies and make them her own. She would be under the same scurrility because of her gender and her basic beliefs, but she did not let that interfere with her place on the throne. Elizabeth mirrored the way Mary ran things and focused more on the topics she felt important, although the public believed that trivial subjects such as her unwilling to marry, or have children, and the fact that she was in deed a woman. Elizabeth embraced the her femininity and used it to comfort the public in which she ruled rather than intimidating them with it, or trying to seem more masculine. She found no reason to hide behind a man, and in that way she paved the way for feminists hundreds of years later to stand up for themselves and march to be treated as equals. Queen Mary was crowned in 1553 as the first queen of England, ruled in a way that showed that she too could be treated the same as a man, referring to herself as a “prince” in many speeches, she metaphorically took the role as a man to help relate to the public rather than proving to them that she as a woman could be just as strong as a man. Upon her death in 1558, Elizabeth took over the throne and “mirrored” that strategy. Instead of hiding......

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Why Did Elizabeth Execute Mary Queen of Scots in 1587?

...Why did Elizabeth execute Mary in 1587? Throughout Elizabeth's reign, she faced many problems from both extreme Catholics and Protestants. For example, many Catholics believed that Elizabeth was an illegitimate heir to the throne, therefore she should be killed and replaced with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, who was the “rightful heir to the throne”. Mary was a threat to Elizabeth and the throne, simply by being in England, therefore Elizabeth needed to make a decision on how to deal with this threat. In order to assess why Elizabeth executed Mary in 1587, it is important to look at her other options in dealing with Mary, such as allowing her to go back to France or to help her regain her throne in Scotland, which Mary was forced to give up when she was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle for the murder of her second husband, and the consequences of these options, both short-term and long-term. In May 1568, after Mary had escaped from imprisonment and fled to England in the hope that Elizabeth would help her, a decision needed to be made about what to do with Mary, as she was a threat to the throne – she represented Catholics all over England. If Elizabeth executed Mary at this point, although she knew she would be removing the threat to the throne, she also knew that she could be accused of murdering a legitimate Queen, and the French may become more hostile towards England, resulting in wars. Therefore, at this point, Elizabeth knew she was unable to execute Mary,......

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Catholics and Elizabeth 1

...passages and our on knowledge, assess the view that the Roman Catholics were a serious threat to Elizabeth I and the church she had established. Elizabeth had inherited the throne of England in 1558 from a Catholic queen Mary who had attempted to re-convert England back to Catholicism and to allow the country to take part in the Catholic reformation of Europe. The accession of Elizabeth was met with anxiety and tension as to discover what she was to do in response to religion and how the Catholic powers of Europe as well as the Catholics within England at the time would treat any changes. The immediate rise to power was met with little hostility as Elizabeth had made very cautious changes to start with as she thought it wise not to provoke hostility from abroad considering the position of England at the time as a small, weak protestant nation. The start of Elizabeth’s reign was fairly peaceful however tensions rose and a Catholic threat seemed more imminent as her reign drew to the end. In order to find out if the Roman Catholics were in fact a serious threat to Elizabeth and her church the essay must be split down into two main sub-sections, one to discover whether Catholics were a threat to Elizabeth herself and the other to decide whether they were a prominent threat to Elizabeth’s Church, however there is a very fine difference between the two as the majority of the rule of Elizabeth and her threats such as that from Spain were dominated by religion. The four......

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The Queen (2006)

...Stephen Frears, utilises the director's imagined memories of the events succeeding Diana's death to portray the Queen, and her actions, in a warmer light. A compelling and challenging view of Diana is also presented in the film, furthering Frears' purpose of convincing the audience of the difficulty of the Queen's position and hence softening the public image of her. Diana is initially presented through a montage of grainy archival footage, where Diana almost seems to be courting and teasing the media with her image. While this archival media footage adds authenticity to Frears' account, it also demonstrates how insulting this behaviour would have been to the rigid policies of the monarchy. Thus as Diana is depicted as causing trouble for the monarchy, sympathy for the Queen's position upon her death is created. This compelling portrayal of Diana, through historical footage, allows Frears to validate his personal memories and in this way the symbiotic nature of history and memory is revealed. insights into Queen Elizabeth II's emotions during the aftermath of Diana's death can be gained through observing the interplay between the collective and personal memories of the event. Frears' imagined interpretation of the Queen's vulnerability challenges the public's collective memory of Diana's death. Frears' perspective is immediately depicted in the opening intertextual quote from Shakespeare's Henry IV: "uneasy lies the head that wears a crown". Sympathy is created as Frears......

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Queen Elizabeth

...Queen Elizabeth Throughout history, men are seen as powerful, strong identities and leaders, very few women have made their mark as an influential being; however, Queen Elizabeth is known as one of the most influential and powerful women in history because of her strong character and leadership and her ability to connect with her audience. In1588 England was caught under a major rivalry with Spain. Queen Elizabeth decided to present a very powerful speech to her troops on the battlefield, with the soul purpose to give them hope and to strengthen their British patriotism. The subject of her speech was to ensure her people that she would not give up on them and would, “…live or die amongst [them].” The powerful message was executed with an informal and motherly tone. Many techniques and certain characteristics helped construct this speech that managed to give courage to thousand of troops. One of the most important techniques that Queen Elizabeth uses in her speech is her swift code switching. Her tone is informal and very colloquial, establishing a strong connection between her and her troops. Her use of language gave a sense of equality and unity. She establishes trust between her audience when she repeatedly uses “we” instead of “you” or “me”, sounding compassionate and selfless, “…but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faith and loving people”. Using Ethos Queen Elizabeth manages to create a strong confident character, one that the audience will......

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...Elizabeth, is a 1998 film about the early life of me, Queen Elizabeth I, of England who is arguably one of the greatest monarchs to ever sit on this throne. Cate Blanchett is the title role and I believe she did alright although I think I am much better looking. I think that this movie broke the usual "period piece" mold of English biographical movies because it was directed by an Indian, Shekhar Kapur. This movie seemed to took a much more dramatic style of storytelling, which I thought was good because there was quite the drama in my Kingdom at that time. The movie also did not shy away from some historical truths of the era, such as dirt, poverty, and torture. In the movie however, there are some mistakes and factual errors that I noticed that were not accurate to what I really went through, or what happened with certain characters in real life. The movie had many errors and said things that I did not do. In the beginning , Firstly, my appearance was not accurate. I did not start wearing wigs and heavy makeup until later in my reign, and it had nothing to do with the Virgin Mary. I very much wanted to keep the image of an eternally youthful Queen, for my own sake because I did not want to feel I was sadly aging, or possibly growing ill. I started wearing red wigs when my hair started greying at a young age. (The Life of Elizabeth) Queen Mother Mary of Guise did send troops to Scotland, but Elizabeth sent a fleet, not an army of troops. And this fleet was not an invasion...

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Queen Elizabeth I

...Queen Elizabeth Regina I was born to Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII at Greenwich Palace on 7 September 1533. She was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. Her mother, Anne Boleyn, was the second wife to Henry VIII and was later charged with with plotting to murder the king. She was charged with 22 counts of adultery. She was later found guilty and beheaded on May 19, 1536, when Elizabeth was just 3 years old. Henry needed Anne out of the way so that he could marry Jane Seymour. Jane Seymour was Henry’s third wife who finally gave Henry a male heir. Jane Seymour died less then 2 weeks after giving birth to Edward. Henry VIII then married 3 more times. However, he had no more children. Elizabeth and her older sister, Mary , also known as “Bloody Mary” were made illegitimate by Henry III at more then one point in their lives, however both ruled. When Elizabeth was declared illegitimate, her title as princess was taken from her and she was referred to as Lady Elizabeth until she was crowned Queen. Mary’s reign was a bloody one. She reverted the people back to the Catholic church and those who were against were punished severely. She beheaded and burned people at the stake during her reign as Queen. Approximately, 300 Protestants were executed. Elizabeth herself , reverted to Catholicism to keep her head. Mary died when Elizabeth was just 25 years old. Elizabeth became queen on 17 November 1558 and was crowned Queen on 15 January 1559 at Westminster Abbey. She in my......

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Queen Elizabeth

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Queen Elizabeth

...Close Reading of ‘When I Was Fair and Young: Queen Elizabeth I’ In ‘When I Was Fair and Young’ Queen Elizabeth repeats “Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere; importune me no more” in all four stanzas. The repeated line is not indeed to end the stanza but rather a line to set the tone for the Queen’s internal feelings and it has a different meaning for each. In the first three lines of the poem she speaks of her power and of her heritage and how blessed she is. The poem dances in her head-it was her only escape from the madness outside of her. Line one and line two are solely told to remind her of her strength; she is the queen! Cupid is brought upon her life, love, he knows, she can control but cannot and does not have the luxury of feeling love. She knows many men desire her and realizes th at any who approaches her she will ‘scorn’ away and gracefully rejects him by telling him to “Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere; importune me no more”. The first repeated line represents herself ridiculing her admirers, the repetition of the word; “go” shows uncertainty in this stanza. She is not sure whether she really wants to chase them away. Stanza two represents more uncertainty but slowly approaches the pain she feels inside. In this stanza the words represent a different meaning to the Queen. She is not one to be controlled so the meaning to “Go, go, go, seek some otherwhere; importune me no more” is not a ridicule chasing her admires away rather than a statement telling......

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Analysis of Renaissance Costume : Queen Elizabeth I ‘S Tudor Dress

... understanding and identifying the fashion elements in the Renaissance ; Deconstructing the dress component of Elizabeth I of England, which is the most signature and luxury icon in the Renaissance period ; Demonstrating competency in analysis and judgments, such as silhouettes, styles and materials; Nourishing our creative minds when learning fashion history ; Executing visualized idea using modern means and Demonstrating mastery in the study of fashion history through cooperative learning and research Methodology A case study based on the Renaissance Costume on Tudor Dress of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603). To analysis focus on silhouette and layers of the dress, intimate, textile and accessory. Finding the influence of Renaissance Costume to fashion world today. Literature Review Look into the few centries of Renaissance, the re-birth period of Europe society and cluture, an exaggerated luxury costume style was developed in the northern Renaissance in the 16th century, which is believed as the golden era in Renaissance evolution in term of fashion. Case Study: Tudor Dress of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), icon of Northern Renaissance in 16th centry This was an era of great richness in dress and a time of constriction and padding of the human figure, female more than male. The Queen, shown in the protrait as Prinese Elizabeth dressed modesetly in the fashion of the period, adopted after her accession, particularly in her middle and later...

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Queen Elizabeth and the Church

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Case Study of Elizabeth I

...CLA: Queen Elizabeth Sandeep Dhakal BUS 325 Introduction to Leadership West Cliff University Professor: Dr. Yvan Nezerwe 3rd April, 2016  Abstract This main purpose of this paper is to presents a brief summary of Queen Elizabeth I of England. This paper includes Elizabeth leadership style, conflicts, resolution, management, empowerment and effectiveness of Elizabeth leadership. Queen Elizabeth The Virgin Queen is the nickname of Queen Elizabeth I. Her regime starts from 1558 to 1603. After the death of her half sister Mary, Elizabeth I became the ruler of the England. Her regime period is said to be the golden age in the history of England. She didn’t have any difference on protestant and catholic religion. In the movie, Elizabeth I leadership is showed as the follow the protocol in meetings, inexperienced to be formal, her regime as a simple girl to the tactician where she realized the true meaning of trust and loyalty in the palace. Queen Elizabeth I was successful leader because she made good relationship with other countries and also develop economic condition of England. [ (Lewis, 2003) ], [ (Hanson, 2015) ] Leadership style of Queen Elizabeth In the movie it showed Queen Elizabeth I ruled from her heart not forms head. Queen Elizabeth is a leader who care and love for its peoples and also improved the skill and knowledge of the people. She served her kin to engage them. She had different kind of leadership style such as...

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Elizabeth I Marriage and Succession

...From the moment Elizabeth became Queen in 1558, there was one question that everyone was asking; who will the Queen marry and name successor? It was assumed that one of the first things Elizabeth would do, would be to select a husband to help her govern England, and more importantly, to produce a protestant male heir. Even though Elizabeth was Queen, members of the Privy Council still felt that it was their right and duty to persuade Elizabeth that marriage was the best notion. Elizabeth was the last of her dynasty, and it was thought natural that her main concern would be to provide a child to perpetuate her rule of England. Despite having numerous suitors at home and abroad, Elizabeth never married. Elizabeth had a huge sense of duty to her country but whether she ever really intended to get married is open to debate. Finding a suitable partner was a major factor in Elizabeth’s decision not to marry. Any English candidate would be of non-royal stock and subject to destructive rivalry from other noble families. A foreign husband might well cement an important strategic alliance but could also sacrifice England’s best interests in the future. The religious affiliation of the prospective husband was also a key factor because it could disrupt the delicate balance arrived at by the Elizabethan Church Settlement. Out of all her liaisons, the most overt and most certain was with her Master of the Horse, Lord Robert Dudley, whom she named the Earl of Leicester in 1564. They had......

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