Spotted via Twitter, I had to dig a little bit to get to this interview with Helen Hackett on the subject of Queen Elizabeth. Definitely check it out for the bits on Spenser’s Faerie Queen, but stay for the Shakespeare. Here, have a taste:
Once you start thinking about this it is quite obvious – you have Titania the Fairy Queen who is infatuated with an ass. Well, you can’t think about the Fairy Queen without thinking about Elizabeth because of Spenser. Titania is made to be a slave to lust, a comical figure, her powers are mocked and she is brought back under the authority of a husband. That is implied to be the norm.
The connection might be obvious, but I guess I never thought about it. The way Hackett paints the picture, nobody was happy with Elizabeth at the time (she’d not had an heir, for instance) and Shakespeare was being pretty blatant in his criticism.