What role does Eleanor play in The Lion in Winter?

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shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eleanor's objective first and foremost is her freedom.  Henry has kept her on a short lease for a number of years.

Both Henry and Eleanor use there children in their personal chess game.  Eleanor is hoping that Richard will be strong enough in the power struggle.  Should Richard win, her freedom is guaranteed.  Henry, on the other hand supports John, portrayed in the play as a sniveling weakling especially compared to Richard.  Geoffery is a manipulator who plays both ends against the middle.

Henry and Eleanor spend most of the play playing verbal chess.  Each  both loves and tries to hurt the other.  You get the feeling that this has been their relationship from the start.

Eleanor was not your ordinary blushing violet of a queen.  In her own right she was a women of wealth and power.  She had been married to the King of France before meeting Henry.  Together Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine were formidable.

They play their game of chess to a stalemate using whatever weapons they can.  At the end of the play, Eleanor returns to Chinon to await a rematch with her husband.

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The Lion in Winter

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