Allegory for Political Rehabilitation: William and Mary, 1692, and Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen
Honorable Mention winner of the Friends of Fondren Library Undergraduate Research Awards, 2014.
When King William III and Queen Mary II ascended to the English throne in 1689 they were relatively well received. However, by 1692 their relationship with the public was strained. This created a need for image rehabilitation that could be partially satisfied by a public work, such as semi-opera. The Fairy Queen, Henry Purcell’s 1692 semi-opera, can be interpreted as a vehicle for this rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is achieved in this work through literary and historical allusions as well as an allegorical relationship between The Fairy Queen’s Queen Titania and England’s Queen Mary. Purcell subtlety reinforces these references and this relationship through instrumental, harmonic, and dramatic choices.