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Lochhead, Liz. Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off.


Act I

- La Corbie's monologue introduces the situation

- Elizabeth refuses her suitors, Mary comments on their qualies how she sees them herself

- Elizabeth becomes Bessie, Mary's maid; Mary then becomes Marian, Elizabeth's maid

- John Knox argues with Mary about religion, does not convince her

- Elizabeth realises she cannot marry whom she chooses, strategically decides to marry Darnley to Mary

- a procession of commoners greets the passing Queen, Mary a. Elizabeth become poor common girls

- Darnley is sick with measles, Mary nurses him

- Darnley and Mary are married

Act II

- Darnely becomes a weak child-like alcoholic

- Mary gets intimate with her secretary Riccio and rumours spread

- Bessie is seduced by the Earl of Bothwell

- Knox argues with Bothwell about religion

- Mary gives birth to a boy named James

- Elizabeth proclaims herself the Virgin Queen

- all the characters become nasty 20th century children who laugh at the Catholic outsider Mary

- the climax is La Corbie's cry of "Mary Queen of Scots got her head chopped off"



- written throughout in heavy Scots dialect

- makes use of various scenic devices, including light, music, dance

- echoes the antic use of chorus in the character of La Corbie

- twists the historical facts to produce an alternative rather banal version of the story

- irreverently degrades the historical figures to the condition of very common people

- deconstructs the myth of ideal love btw Elizabeth and Darnley

- results in a black farce making fun of both Mary's failure and Elizabeth's success to rule the country


  • Author

    Lochhead, Liz. (b. 1947).
  • Full Title

    Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off.
  • First Performed

    Edinburgh, 1987. 
  • Form


Works Cited

Lochhead, Liz. Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off and Dracula. London: Penguin, 1989.


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