• Queering Poins: Masculinity and Friendship in Henry IV, The Hollow Crown, and the RSC's "King and Country"

    Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich (see profile)
    Motion pictures, Masculinity, Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
    Item Type:
    bbc, Henry IV, Queer Performance, Royal Shakespeare Company, Adaptation, Film, Performance, Queer studies, Shakespeare
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    Although scholars have overlooked the minor character Ned Poins, I argue that he is central to the construction of masculinity in Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays. I analyze Poins in two cultural moments in the context of shifting ideas about male friendship and same-sex desire: the sixteenth-century texts and two twenty-first-century productions, the first series of the BBC’s The Hollow Crown (2012) and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “King and Country: Shakespeare’s Great Cycle of Kings” (2014-16), directed by Gregory Doran. I propose that Poins is a queer figure according to both early modern and modern definitions. In an early modern context, he is effeminate and possibly a sodomite whose corruption threatens to contaminate Hal; in the modern productions, he becomes a queer hero whose loving relationship with Hal must be swept aside to enable Hal’s rise. A focus on Poins can bolster existing readings of the Henriad as a sequence that eradicates female and queer difference, but a memorable, sympathetic Poins can also undermine the notion that Hal journeys toward a positive conclusion. The otherwise conservative BBC and RSC productions used Poins to offer a modern take on the Henriad, making it a story of same-sex desire and loss that entangled past and present notions about queerness and encouraged audiences to critique a society that expects heteronormativity and narrowly defined masculinity.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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