Date of Award

Spring 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Annette Finley-Croswhite

Committee Member

Kathy L. Pearson

Committee Member

Douglas G. Greene


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the evolution of the personas that Elizabeth used to gain, hold, and wield power during her reign as Queen of England. These personas were most likely conscious constructs created to deal with the problems Elizabeth faced as ruler of England. She had been bastardized by her father, Henry VIII, and, therefore, was considered by many to have no legitimate claim to the throne. But this problem was almost insignificant in contrast to the problems she faced trying to assert her authority as a female monarch. Elizabeth realized the prevailing wisdom of the time was that a woman was not ordained by law or by God to rule a kingdom. She was also aware of the common belief that women were innately inferior to men and, thus, intellectually incapable of ruling.

It was in the context of these beliefs that it can be argued Elizabeth initiated a process of self-invention—recreating herself in the public mind through a series of personas which allowed her to transcend the restrictions placed on her by her gender. During the course of her reign, Elizabeth was able to recreate herself as Protestant savior, strong prince, military leader, and Virgin Queen, placing herself outside any recognizable contexts of the time. This thesis will attempt to show that Elizabeth created these personas so that she could deal with the world on her own terms. She desired to place herself beyond reproach so she could rule as she chose.


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