Appropriating Elizabeth : absent women in Shakespeare's Henriad
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When scholars look for a Shakespearean analogue to Queen Elizabeth I, they often look no farther than his Richard II, the deposed and effeminate king with whom Elizabeth was known to compare herself. This report seeks to broaden our reading of Shakespeare's Henriad by arguing that, in fact, there are echoes of Elizabeth in both Henry IV and Henry V, successors to Richard II. These traces of Elizabeth reveal the Henriad's fantasy of a male-dominated political sphere as just that: a fantasy. Moreover, this appropriation of maternal or effeminate characteristics is not limited to the Henriad's rulers, but occurs several times in the Shakespearean canon. This absorption becomes another way for Shakespeare's plays to manage their anxiety over threatening women even as they appropriate the authority of an aging Elizabeth.