Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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This article is an attempt to read Cymbeline (1608-1610), one of Shakespeare's so-called 'final plays' or 'romances' as a site of cultural responses to the remaining 'presence' of the late Queen Elizabeth I and her cultural associations in the context of the reign of her gender-different successor, King James I. It argues that these responses can be seen in the play's portrayal of two characters in the play, namely the Wicked Queen and to a lesser extent, Imogen, in which the figure of the late queen is played out and marginalized, and proposes that these representations are ways in which the Jacobean culture deals with and exorcises its anxieties about the late monarch's sometimes contradictory (self-appointed) role as a militant, powerful and inscrutable 'woman-on-top'. which disrupted 'natural' gender distinction in the political climate of James I's reign, during which pacifism, transparency and patriarchalism were highly advocated, especially by the king himself and other writers. It is hoped that this article can offer a reading of the play, not by interpreting it as a complete-in-itself and truth-reflecting work of art by a literary genius according to the romantic-humanistic conception of the 'author' and 'literature,' but rather by taking into accounts political, social and cultural forces that were circulated during the time of composition and reception of the play and with which it interacted.

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