Isabella Whitney's Essay: Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

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Taking Matters into Their Own Hands The tables and tides are turning more and more each day, allowing the writings of people from all classes of life and gender to be studied. The poetry of Isabella Whitney, an educated servant and writer from the second half of the sixteenth century, remained long in obscurity, but like Elizabeth I, whose poetry is often neglected in favor of studying her reign and rhetoric, light is being shed on their creative works. The two female writers, although separated by class, display the fears and frustrations of women who are down on their luck as Fortune imprisons their hearts and bodies and leaves them powerless to change their situations. Whitney wrote “I.W. To Her Unconstant Lover” and “The Admonition…show more content…
Written in 1571, thirteen years after being crowned queen of England, the poem shows that the queen still suffered from fear of “future foes” that threatened to depose her as ruler of her country (Elizabeth I “The Doubt” 1). The first line of the poem, written in response to the attempts of the supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots, to claim the throne of England for Elizabeth’s Catholic cousin displays the queen’s worry that her power and reign are not, at the time, completely stable and secure. Yet despite her fears, the queen writes several lines later that “if reason ruled / Or wisdom weaved the web,” she could gain power over Fortune and no longer fear the future (Elizabeth I “The Doubt” 7-8). Instead, with a rational mind and a heart and body no longer trapped by stronger people, Elizabeth begins to find a way to conquer Fortune and powerfully determine her own fate. Elizabeth ends the poem by revealing that she is no longer a fearful prisoner at the mercy of those with more authority than her, but a powerful ruler of England. With this poem, the young queen displays her formidable strength and warning to any, including fate, who threaten her

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