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Henry VIII

Written: 1613; Text: First Folio 1623 (History), no quarto editions
Source: Holinshed, Raphael (c. 1528-c. 1580). The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587); Foxe, John (1516-87). The Book of Martyrs (4th ed., 1583)
Characters: Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, Queen Katherine, Duke of Norfolk, Duke of Buckingham, Lord Chamberlain, Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, First Gentleman, Duke of Suffolk, Gardiner
Setting: London
Time: AD 1521-1533

Believed by some to be among Shakespeare's last plays, Henry VIII differed in form from his earlier histories. No single character dominates a coherent plot line. Instead, a series of characters fall from grace and power while others ascend. Some minor characters comment on the more major characters' fortunes. In addition to appearing episodic, the play incorporates more pageantry and spectacle than earlier histories, It even includes a dream sequence noted for its spectacle. In some respects, Henry VIII is a toned-down, more dramatic version of masques, which were gaining popularity in James's court. But in Shakespeare's hands the themes of this masque are given dramatic coherence through the recurrent use of imagery, metaphors and vocabulary.

Characters, Actors and Figurative Language

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Early in Henry VIII, Anne Bullen, young and beautiful, considers the prospect of a prosperous future. In the same scene, Anne’s companion, the old lady, sardonically remarks on her lost youth and unfulfilled aspirations for wealth and position at court. The contrast of these two characters is clear, but Shakespeare uses more than casting, makeup, costumes, or even the subject matter of their opening dialogue,
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I come no more to make you laugh

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I come no more to make you laugh. Things now
PersonificationThat bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
SynecdocheSuch noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present.Hyperbaton
Those that can pity here
May,
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Act 1
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An untimely ague Stayed me a prisoner in my chamber

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Buckingham
An untimely ague
Stayed me a prisoner in my chamber when
Those suns of glory, those two lights of men,Anaphora, Pun & Metaphor
Met in the vale of Andren.
Norfolk
’Twixt Guynes and Arde.
I was then present, saw them salute on horseback,
Beheld them when they lighted,
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All this was ordered by the good discretion

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Norfolk
All this was ordered by the good discretion
Of the right reverend Cardinal of York.

No man’s pie is freed
From his ambitious finger.

Buckingham
The devil speed him! No man’s pie is freed
From his ambitious finger.Metaphor
What had he
To do in these fierce vanities?
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Line 59

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Why, all this business Our reverend cardinal carried

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Buckingham
Why, all this business
Our reverend cardinal carried.

You know his nature,
That he’s revengeful, and I know his sword
Hath a sharp edge

Norfolk
Like it your Grace,
The state takes notice of the private difference
Betwixt you and the Cardinal. I advise you—
And take it from a heart that wishes towards you
Honor and plenteous safety—that you read
The Cardinal’s malice and his potency
TogetherParenthesis
;
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Act 1
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This butcher’s cur is venomed-mouthed

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Buckingham
This butcher’s cur is venomed-mouthed, and I
Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best
Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar’s book
Outworths a noble’s blood.Metaphors

Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself.

Norfolk
What,
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Say not “treasonous.”

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Norfolk
Say not “treasonous.”
Buckingham
To th’ King I’ll say ’t, and make my vouch as strong
As shore of rock.Hyperbaton & Simile

This holy fox,
Or wolf, or both—for he is equal rav’nous
As he is subtle, and as prone to mischief
As able to perform ’t

Attend.
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Your office, Sergeant: execute it

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Brandon
Your office, Sergeant: execute it.Hyperbaton
Sergeant, to Buckingham
Sir,
My lord the Duke of Buckingham and Earl
Of Hertford, Stafford, and Northampton, I
Arrest thee of high treason, in the name
Of our most sovereign king.

I am the shadow of poor Buckingham,
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I am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham Is run in your displeasure

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Queen Katherine, to the King
I am sorry that the Duke of Buckingham
Is run in your displeasure.

When these so noble benefits shall prove
Not well disposed, the mind growing once corrupt,
They turn to vicious forms ten times more ugly
Than ever they were fair.

King
It grieves many.
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Act 1
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What news, Sir Thomas Lovell?

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Chamberlain
What news, Sir Thomas Lovell?
Lovell
Faith, my lord,
I hear of none but the new proclamation
That’s clapped upon the court gate.

’Tis time to give ’em physic, their diseases
Are grown so catching.

Chamberlain
What is ’t for?
Lovell
The reformation of our traveled gallants
That fill the court with Bathosquarrels,

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Act 1
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All good people, You that thus far have come to pity me

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Buckingham
All good people,
You that thus far have come to pity me,
Hear what I say, and then go home and lose me.

Go with me like good angels to my end,
And as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice

I have this day received a traitor’s judgment,
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