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Queen Is Dead


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AT: Queen after Death A: Henry de Montherlant Pf: 1942, Paris Pb: 1942 Tr: 1951 G: Hist. drama in 3 acts; French prose S: Portugal, Renaissance period C: 14 m, 5 fTo consolidate an important alliance, Prince Don Pedro of Portugal is to marry Donna Bianca, Infanta of Navarre. However, he has already secretly married his beloved Donna Ines de Castro, who is pregnant by him. Angry over the Prince's devotion to her rival, the Infanta complains to King Ferrante, who assures her that his son's infatuation will soon pass. The King then tries to get Don Pedro to marry the Infanta and keep Ines as his mistress. While Don Pedro dithers over revealing the truth to his father, Ines tells the King about their marriage. Ferrante throws his son into prison, and asks Ines to persuade him to have their marriage annulled and to wed the Infanta. Fearing for Ines's life, the Infanta urges her to escape to Spain with her, but, to the Infanta's amazement, Ines cannot tear herself away from Don Pedro. The Pope refuses an annulment, and the despairing Ferrante finds himself compelled to have Ines executed, even though he has grown to like and admire her. The revelation that Ines is pregnant only hardens his resolve, and while assuring her of her safety, he orders her execution. When she is murdered, Ferrante collapses and dies. The Prince is released from prison and confirmed as King, and Ines's body is brought and mourned over as the dead Queen.

AT: Queen after Death A: Henry de Montherlant Pf: 1942, Paris Pb: 1942 Tr: 1951 G: Hist. drama in 3 acts; French prose S: Portugal, Renaissance period C: 14 m, 5 f

Although Montherlant's wordy historical tragedies were criticized for looking backwards rather than forwards, there are elements of interest in this, his best play. The characterization of the vacillating Prince contains echoes of Hamlet, and Ferrante is a complex figure, caught between humanity and realpolitik. Moreover, the strength and integrity of the two women form an admirably progressive balance to the weakness and cruelty of the men.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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