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Wit and Wisdom: Elizabeth’s use of Eloquence and Intelligence to transcend her

Female Form

Argument: Queen Elizabeth I was an eloquent writer and orator and she used these skills to
overcome any added opposition faced by her due to her being a woman. She could
not change her sex but she could prove herself to be the equal of any man in the
category of intelligence witticism. Thus she chooses to emphasize wit and wisdom in
her writings and speeches over the body.

Elizabeth I’s capabilities:


“the lady Elizabeth shines like a star…the constitution of her mind is exempt from female
weakness, and she is endued with masculine power of application; no apprehension can be
quicker than hers” by Roger Ascham, Elizabeth’s tutor in Greek and Latin between 1548-50

Holding intelligence in high esteem:


“even as an instrument of iron or of other metal waxeth soon rusty unless it be continually
occupied, even so shall the wit of a man or woman wax dull and unapt to do or understand
anything perfectly unless it be always occupied upon some manner of study” –p 2

“I am unimpaired in body, with a good form, a healthy and substantial wit, prudence even beyond
other women, and beyond this, distinguished and superior in the knowledge and use of literature
and language, which is highly esteemed because unusual in my sex”-p 141

The mind being more important than the body:


“As an immortal soul is superior to a mortal body, so whoever is wise judges things done by the
soul to be esteemed and worthy of greater praise than any act of the body” –p 9

“…by Thy hidden but just judgment—some are miserably deformed in body, others (more
miserably by far) destitute of wit and intelligence, still others (by far the most miserable)
disordered in their mind and reason” –p 141

“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”

(Tilbury speech, 1588. See section on The Spanish Armada)