to die unvoluntary

Even autocrats suffer discrimination. In a time when kings could permit themselves as many mistresses as they wanted without endangering their power base, a reigning queen had to be far more careful. It was concern for her popularity that made Elizabeth I to advertize her virginity to gain some kind of cult status. But why should she rule by celibate for real in a century when not even the Pope was inclined to?

Marriage, however, was no option. A legal husband would take over power to begin with. It is now evident why the sex in Mistress is extramatrimonial. If this song had been linked convincingly to the Queen, the impact on her political position would have been devastating. In consequence no Stratfordian should have objected the Baconian claim on this particular song ever after. And would even be willing to surrender the entire play to the rival.

It would be a shame though, Twelfth-Night is an unique masterpiece. Nevertheless, the Baconians would return it to sender forthwith, despite the fact it is out of the question to remove the play from the canon for lack of quality. This because this is no Comedy but a Problem Play. If Queen Elizabeth had noticed the punch line of Mistress, the trial would not only have resulted in the most famous chapter of the author’s biography, it could easily have been the final chapter as well: close reading of Twelfth-Night by a suspicious prosecutor would have resulted in a warrant for high treason.

Linking Francis Bacon to the partsongs has its drawbacks; I have just added another society to the ones already after my blood. My only protection being the fact that because of a fundamental misinterpretation of Richard II, no expert will ever accept the result of following analysis:

With the presence of Elizabeth I in Twelfth-Night as Countess Olivia firmly established, the fuse is lit in Act One; scene five; exactly thirty-three days before certain political tensions exploded in the Essex rebellion;

Cesario  :               (…) Are you the lady of the house?
Olivia     :               If I do not usurp myself, I am.

From this point onward, all the play’s dialogue is designed to discredit Olivia as a lady. The ambiguity is far more sophisticated than in Mistress, but the layers underneath still make mincemeat of her reputation. Take for instance her servants to get out of favour (II; v). Olivia’s alter ego Elizabeth Tudor had the habit to favour her courtiers with well-paid offices, as reward for their merits to the realm or to herself. Offices that could be taken from them at every whim. And only a fool would risk to antagonize her by neglect of duties. For which offence the play’s clown faces punishment in scene 1 ; 5:

Olivia        :           Take the fool away.
Clown       :           Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.

Ignoring the insult, she decides to deny the offender for a while the pleasure of her company. Not as bad a repercussion as could be expected in real life. To emphasize this, Feste gets a little earlier in the same scene the warning that Olivia is prepared to hang him. Which in turn seems a little overdone, the Queen herself was in any case exceptionally angry when she in 1589, for once, promised instant death in connection with a similar offence. Good reason for Feste to make in his reply a joke of the prospect. Or does he really?

Clown       :            Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.

When Olivia finally meets a suitor to her taste, the first thing that catches the eye is the proposal not exactly to follow the usual pattern (IV; ii):

Olivia        :           Nay; come, I prithee; would thou’dst be ruled by me!
Sebastian  :           Madam, I will.

The reversion of rôles, may be fully consistent with her previous behaviour, but not quite the same with the traditional virtues of a lady. Apart from that, her choice of words turns a man of great birth simply into a servant. As far as I am concerned, a proposal should show a little more respect (unless he is a servant, payed to take care of all her needs, of course). Anyway, it is obvious who will be the boss in this partnership, and therefore its patriarchal environment has good reason to call this a bad marriage.

The next problem in connection with this fragment, is her to confuse twins, for which reason she does not propose her ‘true’ love. Evidently this does not bother him, but is that enough to decide he indeed truely loves her?

She proposes him at their first meeting, which happens to be outdoors. Therefore her face is veiled (see I; i, lines 26-27), and eye-contact is impossible. This makes it very doubtfull that Sebastian’s immediate respons is caused by love at first sight. Love at first hearing is more likely. But her choice of words does not really explain their impact; the charm must be in her voice then. Making it a matter of intonation, which in a printed dialogue is recorded as punctuation. Another look at Olivia’s line now reveals the venom in its tail; her words are not leading up to a question mark, as to be expected, but to a note of exclamation! What looks like a sweet proposal, therefore sounds uncanningly like a command.

This is all we need to know: Olivia, the alter ego of Elizabeth I, is absolutely  lady. And if she is no lady, she must be an usurper; she has told Cesario as much the moment they first met.

Therefore she is according to Richard II not entitled to rule.

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