(sub)Text: Competing Affections in “The Lion in Winter”

Before Henry VIII changed history for lack of a son, Henry II had too many. His eldest, Richard, a fierce soldier who controls the wealthy Aquitaine, is the favorite of his mother, Eleanor. The youngest, John, is immature and dull, but his father’s favorite. And the middle son, scheming Geoffrey, is, quite dangerously, no one’s favorite. In the end, there are no winners; competing affections and power schemes serve only to cancel each other out. Is it true then, as this story suggests, that being a favorite amounts to nothing more than a target on one’s back, as its benefits are counteracted by the destructive envy of the disfavored? What drives our own propensities for favoritism? And does occupying any position in the pecking order entail, in Eleanor’s words, learning to live with disappointment? Wes & Erin discuss the 1968 film “The Lion in Winter,” starring Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn.

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