Elizabeth Tudor, Queen of England, weaves the courtier's strategy of sprezzatura throughout her public orations in order to help her identify with her audience of courtiers, scholars, and politicians. Through her use of sprezzatura, Elizabeth woos her audience and transcends the differences of opinion that lead to conflict between the Queen and her audience members. Using Kenneth Burke's theory of rhetoric as identification, this thesis employs rhetorical analysis in order to discover how Queen Elizabeth's use of sprezzatura enables her to portray herself as a humanist scholar, a political servant, and a dedicated defender of her country and thus, identify with her audience. Because these identities also have gender implications, this analysis of Elizabeth's rhetorical choices uses Judith Butler's theory of gender as performance in order to realize the ways in which Elizabeth assumes a masculine identity and also manipulates gender expectations. As Elizabeth uses sprezzatura to delight her audience, smoothing the way for her identification with their characteristics and values, she also reveals her need to transcend division and conflict through the use of her own language. In her 1564 speech at Cambridge, Elizabeth transforms the conflict surrounding her gender by acknowledging it and confronting it in a way that allows her to repudiate specific aspects of negative feminine constructions. When Parliament petitioned her once again to marry in 1576, the Queen moves the focus away from her marital status by turning the discussion into a review of her reign, so that in discussing her success so far, she changes the topic under negotiation to one that she and her audience could more easily agree on. Finally in 1586, after Parliament asked for Mary Stuart's execution, Elizabeth shifts the violence of their differences over what to do with Mary to a third party, emphasizing the dangerous divide between England and Mary's European supporters in order to represent her relationship with Parliament as a united effort to protect the country and its religion. In all three situations, Elizabeth introduces the conflict into her own language and then successfully transforms it, removing the violence.



College and Department

Humanities; English



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Elizabeth Tudor, sprezzatura, identification, Kenneth Burke, gender studies, rhetoric, feminism