Queen Margaret’s haunting revenge
The Gothic legacy of Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses
in Gothic Renaissance
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Elisabeth Bronfen introduces the issue of gender into her discussion of the political and aesthetic deployment of spectral apparitions. Focusing on Queen Margaret’s uncanniness as ‘woman and ruler’, who ‘embod[ies] the political unconscious of her world’, her reading of Shakespeare’s history plays ‘through the lens of contemporary popular culture’ allows her to locate the plays’ ‘Gothic sensibility’ in the ‘ambivalence about feminine political power read through subsequent recycling, resurfacing in contemporary cultural imagination’ such as Tony Gilroy’s film Michael Clayton (2007). At issue in her reading is the Gothic legacy of the monstrous female body as this gives voice both then and now to ‘dark positions in political power games’. At the same time, linking current films attesting to a cultural anxiety about female politicians and Shakespeare’s Gothic warrior queen in his early history plays, she also locates ‘the spectral power on which the mutual implication of dramatic violence on stage and political violence off stage thrives’, as another part of the cultural legacy of Gothic sensibility.

Gothic Renaissance

A reassessment

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