THE LETTER 15 (Spring 1999) pages 61-70
In the recently released movie version of the life of Queen Elizabeth the First, there are two scenes which when taken together can serve as a point of attachment for a consideration of what is at stake in the case of female hysteria. We can find a justification for seeing these quite separate scenes as inextricably linked in virtue of the presence in both of them of the same man. And if in each scene he appears to dominate, being the active, virile member of each scenario, then this only covers over the truth,- that what happens ultimately unfolds between two women and the man is merely the go-between.
In the first scene we witness this young man engaged in a gentle seduction of the Queen, a tender, loving and sensual approach to her, a love-making which amounts to nothing else than an adoration of her body. In a later scene we witness the same young knave engaged in something altogether different with the Queen’s cheeky young maid, who is not an unwilling partner. For the occasion she is decked out in one of the Queen’s instantly recognisable gowns. Making ‘love’ is far from what he has in mind; he is … and nothing will be gained by being coy about it… he is fucking her. And what does the maximisation of his enjoyment depend upon, – what further demand does he make of her? Well, he begs of her: ‘Say you are Elizabeth! Say you are Elizabeth!’. All the requirements being met with, the scene proceeds towards its climax, literally in this case! And it is exactly at this point of penetration and orgasm that something unexpected, something disastrous takes place. Where we expect ecstatic murmurings, erotic groans, there emerges instead a horrendous shriek of pain, a terrifying screaming from the maid.