University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


This project concerns the ways in which Shakespearean literature becomes translated into political theory. T considers the way Shakespeare captures characteristics of Queen Elizabeth I-portraying her as the era's political icon through his plays. He shows her deference by immortalizing her legacy with strong women characters while limiting them to a level of power beneath her. Using The Merchant of Venice, The Tempest, and Othello, the Moor of Venice -plays juxtaposing elements of gender, race, and orthodoxy - the paper shows behavioral patterns linking the plays' patriarchs to King Henry VIII. Shylock, Prospero, and Brabantio each operate in the role of commanding patriarch, though Brabantio is the only Venetian noble with any real power. The first two daughters, Jessica and Miranda, manipulate their fathers and their places in society in order to reap the society's benefits. Shakespeare created these daughters in equally convincing resemblances to Queen Elizabeth. On the other hand, Brabantio 's daughter, Desdemona, shows the fallacy associated with neither respecting the orthodoxy nor finding the right loophole for change. Many critics argue that women who rose to power during this era did not advance the women's movement. Instead, they only served as substitutes in the event that their male counterparts could not rule. My findings do not dispute this. However, in interpreting Shakespeare, it is more beneficial to note the larger picture- women are being taught ways to rise to equality and power with men.