Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Melby Phaneuf


This paper explores the development of the character Eleanor of Aquitaine in James Goldman’s The Lion in Winter. The first chapter provides a brief survey of the major changes and the trends of the twelfth century which might have had an impact on the life of the historical Eleanor. A brief sketch of the major events in her life which are referenced in Goldman’s script follow, including: her family history, her marriage to Louis VI of France, the Second Crusade, scandal, divorce, her second marriage to Henry II of England, the fruitfulness of their union, Henry’s infidelity with Rosamund Clifford, Eleanor’s revenge though insurrection, her subsequent imprisonment, the rebellion of Henry and Eleanor’s sons, the death of Henry’s heir, the subsequent contention for the throne, more rebellion and insurrection, Henry’s attempt at peace, and Eleanor’s eventual freedom. The second chapter analyzes Eleanor’s relationships with the other characters according to Goldman’s script. The previous chapter on the historical Eleanor helps to inform the textual analysis by referencing their relationships in history. The third chapter contains an in-depth, scene by scene analysis of her character motivations, and actions using the archetypes of Queen, Warrior, Magician, and Lover. Tracking the rapid changes in dominant archetypical traits provides for deeper understanding of her motivation and through-line. The final chapter contains analysis and reflection of the rehearsal process and performance. Personal observations comment on the internal work of creating the character, as well as the external manifestations (ie. The physical characterization and vocal choices).


A Thesis-Equivalent Project Presented to the Department of Theatre and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Dramatic Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 2001 Charleen J. B. Willoughby.