Lion In Winter Essay, Research Paper
"Manipulation in Winter"
Lion in Winter is the chess game as portrayed in Becket. There are kings and queens, but the most important ones are the pawns. The pawns are what makes this story grow. Everyone in this story is playing their own chess game for their own reasons. The most dangerous ones are the one that have nothing to lose.
Everyone is hungry for power: Henry, Eleanor, Richard, John, Geoffrey, and Phillip. This thirst for power all started when Henry III, the rightful heir, died. In a normal setting, the next in line should receive the kingdom, but this is not a normal family. So, everyone vying for the throne will use manipulation to get what they want. In Lion in Winter, there are many ultimatums, ulterior motives, and broken promises which equal out to manipulation.
Alice is King Phillips of Frances’ sister. She was betrothed to Henry III, so whomever marries her gets the kingdom. Phillip wants her to get married or he wants his dowry back. Alice is used as a pawn to see whom inherits the thrown.
Eleanor wants her son, Richard to be king, but she mostly wants to hurt Henry. The way to hurt Henry is to see that John does not get the thrown and to see to it that she has the Aquitaine province. Those who know Richard know that the way to get at him is to tell them how much they love him. Eleanor calls for Richard in her bedroom and he is curious about her true intentions. She says that she merely wants a reunion. He listens, but knows how deceitful she is and he says, "We could tangle spiders in the webs you weave."
Nobody ever knows when Henry is being sincere. "When your opponent uses sincerity, that’s when it gets awfully confusing." John, Henry’s favorite son, does not even know when he is merely acting. So, when Henry announces that Richard is going to be the new heir, he is playing with John’s emotions.
Geoffrey is always looking for a chance to come in. He does not care if he is the last resort, he just wants to be king. Geoffrey drops as John’s chancellor because he wants to be on the winning side (at least that’s what he says). He is always thinking about himself and ways to get his foot in the door. He even told his mother that he would walk John into the trap that his mother sets. But that would only be true if he could have something to gain. However, people can see right through Geoffrey and they know exactly what he wants and what he will do to get it. Eleanor even says that he will sell everyone out and he admits to it. Eleanor pleases him for the time being because she knows that he is mostly harmless and has no chance of becoming king.
Once again Eleanor uses love on Richard. She talks about how she taught him this and that and she even went as far as mutilating herself to supposedly prove how much she loved him. However, it is revealed in later scenes that she merely wanted the Aquitaine just so she could raise the stakes with Henry.
Phillip wants Geoffrey to be king in the chess scene. Later on, it is revealed that he merely wants to hurt Henry for what he did to Louie. Geoffrey manipulates John into thinking that John is in control, when he is setting up John just to incriminate him. Geoffrey just wants to get John’s hands dirty so he can show it to his father and make Henry love Geoffrey more.
Henry only promised Richard the throne to get the Aquitaine for John. Eleanor uses her promiscuity to get Henry riled. Eleanor and Henry do some bidding and make some wagers. She promises the Aquitaine province to Henry in return for her freedom. Henry agrees to this, but he has an ulterior motive in mind. Eleanor also uses Alice to get at Henry, but he knows he can never lose Alice, so he just plays along. Henry uses the soon-to-be wedding as a place of manipulation. He uses it to expose Eleanor’s deceitful ways with Richard in order of moving himself closer to Richard to get from him Aquitaine.
Now that John is "king again", he realizes that he needs to stop the revolt against his father. Knowing full well that once their father finds out about John’s scheming that he’ll disinherit him, Geoffrey and Richard make their moves into the heart of their father. However, their plans fail when all their faults are revealed to Henry in Phillip’s bedroom. Phillip uses love to get at Richard and he also uses Richard’s advances to get at Henry. Phillip realized "how much fathers live in sons" and he knew that Henry’s sons would weaken him. Geoffrey tries to use Henry’s disappointments to move ahead, but Henry despises all of his traitorous sons.
Henry now wants a new heir. In order to get a new heir, he needs a new wife. Eleanor does not want to get an annulment, so she tells Henry that she will get all her sons, and Phillip, to rise against him while he is on his way to Rome. In order to combat this, Henry locks them up in a dungeon. Eleanor tries to get her sons to rise up against their father, and then she tries to get her husband to rise against his sons. They all call each other’s bluffs and wait till next Christmas to start all over again.
The most important thing in a chess game is to capture the king. The queen has many directions to move and is quite powerful. The pawns seem useless, but when they have nothing to lose, then people do not pay attention to them and they end up getting to the other side and becoming more powerful. Lion in Winter is a chess game with much strategy and many people putting on their "game faces". In chess, every player is important.