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

    Author(s):
    Elizabeth Zeman Kolkovich (see profile)
    Date:
    2019
    Subject(s):
    Adaptation, Film, Masculinity, Performance, Queer studies, Shakespeare
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    bbc, Henry IV, Queer Performance, Royal Shakespeare Company
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/5dtk-p570
    Abstract:
    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.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    2 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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