'Tongue-tied, our queen?': The Anatomy of a Pun
Editors and critics of early modern drama sometimes note the presence of the queen/quean homonym in their texts, but they do not explore its complex focussing of contemporary anxieties about female power, both sexual and political. Even as facile abuse it can be inadvertently revealing; while in the hands of the period's best dramatists, including Shakespeare, Jonson, and Middleton, it acquires a forensic force which boosts an examination not only of male constructions of female identity, but of the fragility and insecurities of the male ego itself. Critical neglect of the pun has left its operation unexplored even in major plays, such as Antony and Cleopatra and The Winter's Tale.
Copyright (c) 2022 Early Modern Literary Studies
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.