Evaluating virginity
A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the iconography of marriage
in Goddesses and Queens
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A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play which is heavily imbued with the iconography of virginity which had been developed by and for Elizabeth I in the final phase of her reign. This chapter is concerned with several strategies of retrospection employed by William Shakespeare in Dream in order to critique Elizabeth and her iconography of virginity. The first example of this is the relationship between Dream and John Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage. The second strategy of retrospection is Shakespeare's use of the figure of Titania to reassess Elizabeth's status in the 1590s as perpetual virgin. The myth of Dido was one which had been used in Elizabethan entertainments as early as 1564. The use of the myth increased significantly, however, during the period 1579 to 1583 which coincided with the marriage negotiations between Elizabeth and Francis, Duke of Anjo.

Goddesses and Queens

The iconography of Elizabeth I

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