Of Chastity and Power:
Elizabethan Literature and The Unmarried Queen
By Philippa Berry
216 pages | PDF | 5.4 Mb
In Of Chastity and Power, Philippa Berry combines Renaissance scholarship with feminist literary criticism to reject former accounts of the cult of Elizabeth, which presented both the queen's gender and her marital status as unproblematic.
Through readings of key Elizabethan texts by Lyly, Raleigh, Chapman, Shakespeare and Spenser, Phillipa Berry shows that while Elizabeth's combination of chastity with political and religious power was repeatedly idealized, it was also perceived as extremely disturbing. By placing these texts within a wider context of European culture and history, Berry shows that the figure of the unmarried queen implicitly challenged the masculine focus of Renaissance discourses of love and of absolutist political ideology, ultimately subverting the philosophical division between spirit and matter upon which Renaissance ideas of women were founded.