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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 III, SCENE I

Summary

The queen and her women are at work. The queen is depressed and asks one of her women to sing in the hope that it will uplift her spirit. Cardinal, Wolsey and Campeius come to the queen offering their counsels in her service. Katherine suspects their motives and at first doesn’t accept their preferred help. She declares herself to be friendless in England and says that her only allies lie in Spain. Campeius advises her to put her fate in the King’s hands and trust his generosity. Provoked by Campeius words she orders them out of her apartments. After much effort, they convince her that they have her best interest at heart, and she agrees to accept their advice in the matter of her divorce.


Notes

This scene focuses on what the Queen is going through, faced with the most difficult ordeal of her life. She has fallen out of her husband’s favor, the most beloved person in her life and her sense of alienation and isolations augmented by the fact that her blood relations are out of reach, in faraway Spain. Hence there is no one she can turn to for immediate and total support. There is darkness all around her and no possibility of rescue. She seeks relief from the depression that weighs her down in music. The music is a symbolic representation of the escape she seeks from an intolerable situation.

It is important to see the treatment of Katherine’s character in this scene by the dramatist. The depiction in this scene differs considerably from what is shown in the previous scenes. This scene is written wholly by Fletcher. This explains the change in Katherine’s character better than the reason being her fall from favor. Where Wolsey is concerned, to think is to suspect. But in Fletcher’s hands she has become full of words and weak impulses talking before she knows her own mind. It sows her half-hearted attempt to convince herself that no Cardinal would come for a bad purpose. She succeeds in overruling the voice of reason, which was lucid in the beginning of the scene. Her acceptance to Wolsey’s counsel shows the crumbling of her resistance in the face of inevitable fate.

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Free Study Guide-Henry VIII by William Shakespeare-Free Online Book Notes
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