Susan Campbell Anderson
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Where’s Walter?
The screen incarnations of Sir Walter Ralegh
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The most fully realized vision of the intricately scripted life of Sir Walter Ralegh is achieved by Stephen Greenblatt. Like a favourite period ornament, Ralegh has made numerous appearances in film and television, but nearly always as a supporting player in someone else's story. In an ensuing scene, Ralegh is used to triangulate the relationship between Elizabeth and Essex. Despite Elizabeth's warnings against Essex travelling to Ireland to quell tyrone's rebellion, Essex does so with disastrous results, ultimately setting the stage for his own execution. Elizabeth proves herself the conqueror, and much of the film is a process of domesticating Ralegh, by degrees, through a series of indignities, and Ralegh fighting to free himself from that domestication. Ralegh begins the process of reclaiming his manhood and rejecting the world of Elizabeth's court when his honour is called into question in the Privy Council.

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