Gertrude and Religious Iconization of English Queens Analytical Essay

Gertrude and Religious Iconization of English Queens
A discussion of religious iconography and the virgin-whore dichotomy in pre and post Elizabethan England using Elizabeth I. and Hamlet's Gertrude as examples of the virgin and whore characterization.
# 2238 | 2,285 words | 5 sources | 1998 | US
Published on Oct 11, 2001 in History (British) , Literature (English) , English (Analysis) , Shakespeare (Hamlet) , Drama and Theater (General)

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A discussion of religious iconography as it relates to the Catholic Queens of England, Elizabeth I. and Hamlet?s Gertrude. This paper contains a discussion of the virgin-whore dichotomy as it relates to the depictions of the Catholic Queens of England and Elizabeth I. in comparison to Gertrude. It also deals with an interesting change in religious iconization as England made its movement in support of the Protestant faith. The argument defines and discusses three areas in which queens are compared to religious icons and how their success and failure in these areas establishes their places in the virgin-whore dichotomy.

From the Paper:

"To give the queen the desired position in the dichotomy as the virgin, queens were often equated with religious icons, making their legacies almost saintly. These images of holiness defined both the queen's positions in the monarchy and the standards to which the future queens were held. After the fall of Catholicism in England, the iconizsation of the queen changed. Elizabeth in particular wasn't associated by allegory alone to the Virgin Mary, but rather became the Virgin Mother of England in body as well as by allegory. This strengthened both her political position and her position in the virgin-whore dichotomy of the time. By comparing Queen Elizabeth, who was seen as a saintly, virginal figure, to Shakespeare's character Gertrude, who was seen as lusty and betraying, the major virgin-whore dichotomy of the Elizabethan and post-Elizabethan age can be exemplified."

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