Victims of Gender Politics: A Comparison of Jane Shore in The Second Part of King Edward IV and Margaret Thatcher


  • Abbigail Jackson


When thinking of powerful women in Medieval and Early Modern England, one normally does not think of the literary character Jane Shore. I argue that the Jane Shore portrayed in The Second Part of King Edward IV is not only a powerful woman, but also a political figure. I point to examples of Shore using her influence over King Edward IV to make political moves and acting on her own accord. That is, she does not rely on a man to give her agency. I compare her to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to show that the treatment of women in politics did not change much in the intervening 500 years. I chose Margaret Thatcher to bring in a modern example of a woman in British politics, and to compare and contrast how the two women functioned in politics. While Heywood’s Jane Shore and Margaret Thatcher were from completely different times, had different roles in society, and held different positions of power, they were both victims of gender politics. Both women went against gendered expectations by demanding autonomy, making their own decisions, and joining the world of politics, and both women suffered the consequences of these actions.