Scene 1: The Stage
1.What advice does Walsingham give to the boy about how he should
act? If there is so little beauty and so much suffering in the world,
how can one look forward to playing a part in worldly affairs? And
is it possible under such circumstances to keep one's innocence?
2. Why does the film show a young boy appointed as the assassin?
3.Why does Walsingham kill the boy after persuading him not to
carry out the assassination? If the scene demonstrate Walsingham's
own lack of innocence? What does Walsingham's statement that innocence
is our most precious possession indicate about his own character?
Scene 2: After the Coronation
1.What problems does Elizabeth face as a new ruler?
2.How would Machiavelli advise Elizabeth in this scene?
3.Why does Sir Walter believe that marrying and producing an heir
will secure the kingdom? Who does Elizabeth resist his advice to
4. Is Sir Walter a good advisor?
Scene 3: Elizabeth's Council
1.How does Elizabeth face her first crisis? Does she have the respect
of her Council?
2. Why does Elizabeth ask for Walsingham's advice, and why does
Sir Walter object to her doing so? What does her turning to Walsingham
indicate about her potential as a ruler?
4. Explain Walsingham's advice to Elizabeth: "a prince should
watch that he doesn't become afraid of his own shadow."
Scene 4: War's Outcome
1.What does Elizabeth learn from her failed attempt in Scotland?
Why does she look at her father's portrait?
2.What does she learn from Walsingham in this scene? Why does she
say, with such indignation, "then they are speaking against
their Queen!"? What is sedition?
3.How does Walsingham answer her, and why does he answer in the
manner he does?
4.What kind of counselor do you think Walsingham is? To what extent
does he simply follow Elizabeth's wishes, and tell her what she
wants to hear? Would he be a good counselor if he did either? Does
he follow Machiavelli's advice about giving advice?
5. How does this scene mark Elizabeth's moving from a reliance
on Lord Robert to a reliance of Sir Walsingham? How would you compare
the two men? Which has the greater care for Elizabeth? Which has
the greater appreciation of Elizabeth?
Scene 5: Princes and their Counselors
1. What kind of deal does Robert make with the Spanish ambassador?
What is his motivation?
2. Does he betray Elizabeth by this deal?
3. How does Elizabeth react? What does her reaction reveal about
her character? Do you think she would be as likely to react this
way when she first became queen?
4. What advice does Sir Walter give to Elizabeth in the next scene?
How does it resemble Lord Robert's advice about marrying the Spanish
king? Is there any connection between Elizabeth's rejection of Lord
Robert and her rejection of Sir Walter as an advisor?
5. Has Walsingham done the right thing by killing Mary of Guise?
Has he aided Elizabeth and England? Are their consequences of this
murder that might damage Elizabeth's reign?
6. What do you think of the choice Elizabeth makes in this scene
of Walsingham over Sir Walter as her closest advisor? Compare the
two men as advisors to the queen.
7. Is Elizabeth, in fact, "unfit to rule" as was suggested
in Scene 4 when her army was brutally defeated in Scotland? What
does her choice of counselors say of her part in Mary of Guise's
8. What does it mean to have the heart of a man? To be afraid of
nothing? Is this in fact true of Elizabeth?
9. Sir Walter says his only aim was to secure Elizabeth's throne.
She tells him that his policies would make England nothing but the
appendage of a foreign power. Are these incompatible - security
and being the appendage of a greater power? If one has to choose,
which is more desirable - peace and security or liberty and autonomy?
Scene 6: Countering a Conspiracy
1. Norfolk gives voice to what sounds like one of the most Machiavellian
statements in this film: "In the future...they will thank me
for this act, and forget the manner of it." What crime is he
committing? Is he right? Is this a claim Machiavelli would make?
Does Norfolk prove more Machiavellian than Walsingham?
2. How adequate is Walsingham's response ("they will forget")
to Norfolk? How does the contrast between these two men contribute
to our view of Walsingham?
3. Contrast Norfolk and Arundel as traitors. Why does Elizabeth
have both of them punished alike?
4. How does Elizabeth's response to Arundel about memory differ
from Walsingham's to Norfolk?
Scene 7: Sparing Lord Robert
1. What does Lord Robert mean when he says it is not easy to be
loved by a queen? To what does he attribute his corruption?
2. Elizabeth's decision to spare Lord Robert may be the one time
in the film that she refuses to follow Walsingham's advice. What
does Elizabeth's decision reveal about her? Earlier Walsingham told
Mary of Guise that Elizabeth ruled with her heart rather than her
head. To what extent is this true here?
3. Would Elizabeth have shown herself to be a better or worse ruler
had she followed Walsingham's advice?
Scene 8: To Reign Supreme
1. Walsingham confirms for Elizabeth in this scene that she in fact
must be like stone - moved and touched by nothing and no one in
order to reign supreme. Will Elizabeth be happy? Would you want
to be ruler at this cost? What moves Elizabeth in her ruling England?
Will she be a successful ruler?
2. What has moved Walsingham to instruct his Queen in that which
is necessary for success? Consider again what Walsingham says to
Norfolk in Scene 6. What is the difference between the courage to
be loyal and the conviction of one's vanity? Which better describes
Walsingham himself? Is there any precedent for this distinction
in Machiavelli's Prince?
3. What is Walsingham's understanding of religion? Does it play
any role in his understanding of politics? Or in his understanding
of human life, more generally? Consider Walsingham's musings to
the young boy ordered to assassinate him. Consider also Walsingham's
words to the priest while he had him tortured:
You were carrying letters from the Pope. To whom were you
told to give them? Tell me, what is God to you? Has he abandoned
you? Is he such a worldly god that he must play politics in
the filth of conspiracy? Is he not divine? Tell me the truth
as if you were face to face with him now? I am a patient man,
To what extent might Walsingham be a religious man?
Scene 9: Elizabeth's Marriage to England
1. Why does Elizabeth cut her hair and put on white make-up? Is
it an act of hiding or of revelation? What does she mean when she
claims that she has become a virgin?
2. Is Elizabeth as a virgin queen compensated in any way for not
1. Does Elizabeth's being a woman affect her as a ruler? How do
others react to her as a woman ruler?
2. Which characters in this film would Machiavelli praise? Which
would he blame? Why?
3. Is there as much a tension between politics and virtue for Elizabeth
as there is for Plato, as suggested in the Apology?
4. Socrates says that politics is corrupting. Is Elizabeth corrupted
by her involvement in politics? Would Socrates be any more pleased
by her and her regime than he seems to be with his rulers and his