As one of only two Shakespearean characters who survive through four plays, t Margaret of Anjou, Henry VI’s queen, is much underrated by critics who have written about the figures of the First Tetralogy. They variously describe her as "an archvillainess… epitomiz[ing] the worst qualities of her own sex" (Lee 216), "monstrous" (Howard and Rackin 96), and "conniving" (Bevington 57). Indeed, as Nina Levine has recently pointed out, York’s characterization of her as "a tiger’s heart wrapped in a woman’s hide" has "come to dominate discussions of Margaret in the years since" (Women’s Matters 68). Generally missing from discussions of Margaret is a recognition of her amazing endurance despite the pervasive corruption, duplicity, and political intrigue of which she is sometimes the agent and at other times the intended victim. In this regard she evolves into a most worthy opponent to the chameleon king, Richard III. She warms up for this, her apotheosis, by first taking on Suffolk in 1 Henry VI, Eleanor and Gloucester in 2 Henry VI, and York in 3 Henry VI, at each turn honing her confrontational skills, working toward her ultimate challenge to the king in Richard III. What is at stake in each of these contests is, above all other considerations, her personal and political autonomy-as a woman and a queen.2 At each successive stage of her career she takes on one of the archetypal roles Jung was later to describe for the life cycle of a woman-Virgin, Wife, Mother, and the "Wise Old Woman" or Crone (Jung 5-21; 41-53). Margaret sustains a feminine autonomy by resisting patriarchal definitions of femininity; she will not be subjugated or silenced, or defined by those around her, despite their persistent attempts to do so.
|Title of host publication||Henry VI|
|Subtitle of host publication||Critical Essays|
|Publisher||Taylor and Francis|
|Number of pages||18|
|ISBN (Print)||0815333013, 9780815333012|
|State||Published - 1 Jan 2013|