Jessica Santana on Queen Elizabeth I's Letters and Speeches

Published by admin_main on Wed 29 Sep, 2010

2. To what extent, in any of the prose or poetry selections, does a sense of Elizabeth as an individual come through—that is, what sense do you get of a flesh-and-blood human being aside from the pageantry and public rhetoric surrounding such a grand figure as "Her Majesty Elizabeth I"? Discuss with reference to specific passages.

"As for my own part, I care not for death, for all men are mortal; and though I be a woman, yet I have as good a courage answerable to my place as ever my father had. I am your anointed queen. I will never be by violence constrained to do anything. I thank god I am indeed endued with such qualities that if I were turned out of the realm in my petticoat, I were about to live in any place of Christendom."

In this passage from A Speech to a Joint Delegation of Lords and Commons, page 692, we see the human side of Elizabeth. When she says that she doesn't care for death for all men are mortal, she is showing a vulnerable side because she is scared of death and knows that eventually death will come. And even though she is a woman she will have the same courage as a man and references her father. She goes on to say that she will be strong and fight for her country, which is what she is supposed to say. But for a brief moment she put down the public facade and allowed her audience to see a more intimate side of her.

"there will never queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country care to my subjects, and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety, than myself. For it is not my desire to live nor reign longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have had and may have more princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had or shall have any that will be more careful and loving."

The Golden Speech is about Elizabeth's love for her people. She continually thanks the members of parliament and expresses the love she has for her people. In this passage, her closing remarks I think that it shows her humbleness as a leader. She said it was all about her people in saying "...that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good safety." And that it is her desire to reign for her people's wellbeing. I think because it is her last speech to parliament she is speaking from her experiences and has become wise. Elizabeth came to the throne knowing that in order to be a good ruler for England, she would have to be strong in politics. Even though this speech is part of her position, we can feel the underlying passion she felt for her country. Elizabeth knew that her life would not be an easy one and accepted the sacrifices she had to make.

The main reading that I think showcases Elizabeth's real feelings is in the letter to Amyas Paulet on 697. Mary, Queen of Scots was in alliance with a group of catholic supporters, led by Anthony Babington, who were planning to assassinate the queen. Mary was tried in a court and declared guilty of treason. It was Elizabeth who had to send her own relative to the guillotine. In the letter Elizabeth asks God for his forgiveness of Mary's 'treacherous dealing'. She says, "let repentance take place; and let not the fiend possess her so as her best part be lost which I pray with hands lifted up to him that may both save and spill..." I think this shows that Elizabeth feels guilty for putting Mary to death even after Mary tried to have her killed. She kept Mary safe and protected and still asks for god's forgiveness-"ask God forgiveness for her treacherous dealing towards the saver of her life many years, to the intolerable peril of her own." Furthermore, in the letter to King James VI of Scotland, Mary's son, Elizabeth starts out the letter in an apologetic tone. She says, "I would you knew though not felt the extreme dolor that overwhelms my mind for that miserable accident, which far contrary to my meaning hath befallen." Elizabeth already feels horrible for killing her cousin, but now she has to tell Mary's son. Elizabeth didn't want to have Mary killed in the first place.


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