The issues of power and femininity that are developed in the film Elizabeth
In the film Elizabeth exist relevant issues of power and femininity which affected the queen during her monarchy. By power is meant the “control over people, a place or a situation” and by femininity is understood “having the qualities that are considered typical of a woman”. These two issues develop in the film in order to create certain obstacles and other solutions while Queen Elizabeth is in power. Though they affect in different ways her government, they are also responsible for the final success of her country. In asserting power as the monarch o England, Elizabeth faces many difficulties and problems.
She is seen as a bastard for being Anne Boleyn’s (Henry VII’s second wife) daughter; her cousin Mary of Guise wanted her throne in order to be queen of England and Scotland; and final but not less important problem is that she was a single woman in a male governing society, since England never had a queen before. Though Bloody Mary had been one, she was married to Phillip of Spain, so the power was not concentrated on her as it was on Elizabeth. Therefore Elizabeth didn’t have an easy monarchy at all, due to moral and social reasons, mainly to her sexuality.
Her sexuality increases these difficulties and problems, since Elizabeth, by being a woman, acts according to her emotions and is more sensible than a man would’ve been in her position. When discussing what to do about France, she says to the Lords she doesn’t like wars, though at that moment maybe it was the most convenient thing to do. Women, at those times, were seen as more inferior and weaker than men, more than they are seen nowadays, so many people could’ve advantage place of Elizabeth’s sensibility.
For example, when she is being taken to Bloody Mary’s palace, one of the Lords going with her offers her his coat showing compassion, but later, when she is queen of England, this Lord is disloyal to her . Her sexuality also brings up the problem of deciding who will she marry, since some people expect her to marry the king of Spain, others the duke of Anjou from France, and others a British noble; but she didn’t want to marry, so she has this constant pressure on her.
So as she is a woman, Elizabeth is more sensible, very strongly influenced by her feelings and therefore more weak in making important decisions for a whole country. Though she has all these difficulties, Elizabeth attempts to use her sexuality as a tool in establishing power. For example, when she is dancing with Lord Robert and he asks when are they going to be in private again, she shouts, stops dancing and answers with anger, “There shall be one mistress, and no master! , referring to her desired independence from men and that she doesn’t intend to get married, since she is “married to England,” as she states later.
The problem is that in those times if women married to a man, they became this man’s property and the power concentrated on him, therefore Elizabeth wanted to show she was able to govern England by herself. This is when she says, “I may have the body of a woman, but I have the courage of a King. ” Finally, she uses her sexuality as a tool in trying to persuade the cardinals for them to become protestant.
She practices how to speak to them in order to convince them, as it is the typical feminine personality technique. So the fact of Elizabeth being a woman brought her, as well as problems, the illusion of using her sexuality as a political tool against these problems, but this illusion died. Elizabeth was not successful in using her sexuality as a tool in establishing power to fight against her problems. For example when she is informed about how her bad management of her power has taken her country to the situation it is in, very bad economic and politically.
She expresses this failure in her constant bad humour, tense attitude and crying. A clear example of this is when she ran into a dark room and cried, accepting her failure. And finally, another reference to her failure in using her sexuality as a political tool is that she was always supported by Wolfsheim or any other man, which means that the final success her country got wasn’t done by her, but by the help of others and her intentions to improve.
Therefore Elizabeth failed in using her sexuality as a tool due to her vulnerability to men and feminine tendency to act according to her feelings. Elizabeth, once she is confronted to so many problems, makes an ultimate decision about her femininity and her position of power. When she realizes France has sent her a poisoned dress which her lady used and therefore died, she realized humanity as a threat for her.
She wanted men to die for her, since men had always died for virgin Mary, and she wanted to take out all her beauty so that no man would feel any attraction towards her. Therefore she decides to turn herself into the same virgin Mary, who has never been presented as a woman. In that way Elizabeth got rid of any beauty she possessed, as well as her sexuality. Throughout these elements, the film’s director sends a message to women, by showing Elizabeth’s suffering, her effort and self-respect, though very few people respected her.
So the director’s message towards women is to never loose the intention to succeed in what they want, to fight for it and that even they’ve always been seen as inferior, they can do everything they propose to themselves if they really want to. Elizabeth, due mainly to her sexuality and secondary social and moral factors, had to confront many difficulties, such as sensibility, lack of potential to take the right decisions and such responsibility as it is the throne of a country like England, when being at England’s throne.
Even these problems exist, she is able with the help of others, her attitude towards her country and her desire of improvement, to take her country ahead and accept that she was capable of doing it only with what she had. She is admirable, since was able to find a solution between many problems and after all, the time she was in power were the best forty years of England.