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“Nothing Hath Begot My Something Grief”: Invisible Queenship in Shakespeare’s Second Tetralogy

  • Kavita Mudan Finn
  • Lea Luecking Frost
Chapter
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

Abstract

Critics of Shakespeare’s second tetralogy have argued that it sidelines women to a degree extreme even for the Shakespearean stage. This chapter contends that Shakespeare uses this absence to underscore moments of crisis. In part, these crises are dynastic—the Queen’s helplessness in Richard II, combined with the sexual undertones of her language, emphasizes that she and her husband are a dynastic cul-de-sac. Shakespeare excises a historical queen, Joan of Navarre, from the Henry IV plays, rendering the Lancastrian court a wholly male—and thus sterile—space. Finally, Princess Katherine’s appearances in Henry V also feature reminders of her son’s disastrous reign, undercutting the play’s triumphant ending. But the invisibility of queenship is purposeful, as it highlights how avenues for female political power are closed off, to the detriment of everyone involved.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kavita Mudan Finn
    • 1
  • Lea Luecking Frost
    • 2
  1. 1.Independent ScholarManchesterUSA
  2. 2.Independent ScholarSt. LouisUSA

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