How Was Shakespeare Influenced by Queen Elizabeth?

Queen Elizabeth I was one of Shakespeare’s chief patrons and served as a staunch defender of his plays when critics attempted to have them banned from the stage. Her insistence that women were emotionally and intellectually equal to men influenced his portrayal of women characters as three-dimensional human beings, a first in literature and theater at that time.

Elizabeth was a loyal patron of Shakespeare’s work throughout his career, according to Shakespeare Online. She was a tremendous fan of theater and the literary arts; she was even an accomplished poet. In turn, Shakespeare faithfully supported the queen and referred to her in several of his works, including “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Bard even performed several of his plays before the monarch in the Royal Palace at Greenwich.

When the Puritans attempted to close down Shakespeare’s early plays, Elizabeth stood in opposition to the effort and defended his work publicly, according to a Humanities 360 article.

While Elizabeth ensured Shakespeare continued to write plays, she also directly influenced their future content, according to the author of a Yale National Initiative paper titled “Queen Elizabeth’s Influence on Disguise in Shakespeare’s Plays and Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene.'” She was the first female British monarch to appear strong and wise as well as feminine. Shakespeare depicted this seeming dichotomy in several of his plays, including “As You Like It,” in which two women disguise themselves as men for their own safety, and “The Taming of the Shrew,” which features a woman who holds her ground despite being surrounded by arrogant men.