Philip Sidney’s Stella: The Lady, the Countess, and the Queen

  •  Saleh H. Alkharji    


In his poetic sequence, Astrophil and Stella (1591), Philip Sidney dramatizes his speaker’s romantic ambitions of climbing the Ladder of Love. While many academics interpret the sequence as a semi-biographical work, they disagree in evaluating how deep the sequence mirrors Sidney’s life. Traditionally, Astrophil is interpreted as a surrogate for Sidney and, more critically, Stella is read as a fictionalized version of Lady Rich. However, given the inconsistency of literary evidence, a new reading of the sequence emerged and argued that Stella is Sidney’s wife, Frances Walsingham. Although this paper agrees on the surrogacy of the speaker in the sequence, a closer analysis of the poetic language used in Sidney’s sonnets would contradict these Stella’s interpretations. Furthermore, as this paper cites historical documents that confirm the non-romantic relationship between Philip Sidney and Lady Rich, a closer examination of the sequence and the historical context of the Elizabethan Era would conclude that Stella’s real identity is far more complex and multidimensional than to be a mere fictionalized version of Lady Rich or Frances Walsingham. In fact, an investigation of Sidney’s personal life and a close reading of Astrophil and Stella would conclude that Sidney’s Stella is a masked version of Queen Elizabeth.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1925-4768
  • ISSN(Online): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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