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Free Study Guide-Henry VIII by William Shakespeare-Free Plot Synopsis Notes
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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES

ACT II, SCENE III

Summary

This scene shows Anne Bullen engaged in conversation with an old lady. They are discussing the Queen’s upcoming divorce. Anne says that a life of humble content is preferable to one where one has a high status but sullied by sorrow. Anne declares that she would never choose to be a queen. The old lady is not convinced, she believes that Anne, like any woman, would lie glad to accept any honors bestowed on her. Lord Chamberlain arrives with the news that the King has made Anne the "Marchioness of Pembroke" with a stipend of a thousand pound a year to go with the title. Anne conveys her gratitude to the King for his generosity. In an aside Chamberlain reveals that he approves of Anne and hopes that she will provide Britain with an heir when she becomes the Queen. The Chamberlain departs and shortly after that. The two women leave as well, to comfort the Queen in her hour of need.


Notes

At first glance this scene appears quite out of place. It disturbs the interest in Katherine, which comes to a head in the next scene. As to its place, it throws light on the King’s motives, and on one courtier’s attitude towards the divorce, thus marking the turn of the tide. Lord Chamberlain perceives Anne in a very favorable light. His hopes are geared toward the future; it is evident that as far as he is concerned, Katherine is the past.

Another thing the scene brings about is Anne’s psychological state at this point. She is the cause behind all the changes that are occurring in the palace. She is the center of the King’s regard, the reason behind his proposed divorce, and it is no wonder that she does not remain unaffected. Her sympathy for the queen is genuine although her disclaiming her valuation to be one is false.

Fate can raise a person to great heights and then make him/her come tumbling down. Anne sees a living example of this in the form of the Queen she serves. Anne is on the brink of great glory and she welcomes it. Nonetheless, the temporal nature of the glory lies revealed before her, it occurs to her that the same may happen to her. Her feelings of elation are mixed with such thoughts, confusing her. Hence she comes across as sounding hypocritical and self deceiving in the conversation with the old woman.

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