Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
2020 Abigail A Sorkin
Why did Queen Elizabeth I portray herself as the Virgin Queen? Why were both elements, virgin and queen, essential to her longevity and her success? Scholars have traditionally argued that Elizabeth’s persona as the Virgin Queen is a result of the end of her last marriage negotiation in the mid 1580s as it was now clear she would never marry and remain childless. However, considering the religious and diplomatic implications of this image, this interpretation not only seems too simplistic, it neglects the ways Elizabeth deliberately represented herself in a way that would appeal to her public. The Virgin Queen image was a result of political and religious strategy that especially manifested in the second half of her reign but had its roots in her entire life experience. First, this thesis will analyze Elizabeth’s lifelong strategic thought process regarding her reputation. The following chapter will consider her attitude and actions towards marriage once Queen. Elizabeth cultivated this image through religious ceremonies, speeches and portraiture which were widely spread throughout the kingdom. The following chapter will examine the domestic and international challenges that Elizabeth faced as she began creating the Virgin Queen image. Finally, through portraiture this thesis will show that Elizabeth successfully created an interchangeability between herself and the Virgin Queen and herself and England. By co-opting the Virgin Mary symbolism in a now Protestant England, Queen Elizabeth was able to utilize her image as the Virgin Queen to create an enduring personification of herself as England.
Sorkin, Abigail, "Virginity, Elizabeth, And The Power Of Persona: Examining the Shift Of Queen Elizabeth's Image In The 1570s-1580s Where She Replaced The Virgin Mary, Defeated The Spanish And Became Immortal" (2020). Scripps Senior Theses. 1526.