These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community.
We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Yang (Jenny) Bai
The pale colours of Jane Seymour’s clothing
Jane Seymour likes to dress in soft colours, such as pale blue and delicate green. Her preference for pale colours symbolizes the unassertiveness of her character. Jane Seymour presents herself as a woman with a demure demeanour. She affects a prudish countenance, speaks softly and walks with her eyes downcast. Therefore, the soft shades of her clothing are in perfect keeping with Jane’s unassuming image. Soft colours make the wearer look inconspicuous and self-effacing. Jane knows that Anne’s vibrant, highly sexualized image is falling out of favour with the king. Therefore, Jane knows that she has everything to gain by presenting herself as the polarized opposite of Anne. The soft colours of her garment serve as a perfect foil to Jane’s discreet and unostentatious personality. The delicate colourings proclaim her as a virtuous woman who is indifferent to gaudy ostentation and pompous display. By donning soft colours, Jane is literally wearing her “virtues” on her sleeves.
The dark colours of Anne Boleyn’s clothing
Anne Boleyn likes to wear dark and attention-grabbing colours. At one occasion, Anne chooses the darkest red for her dress and hat. Jane Seymour likes to use soft colours to highlight her demure and inconspicuous personality. Anne is a woman with a vibrant personality; she therefore needs the most striking colours to show off her dynamic character. Anne rejoices in the pomp and circumstances of the court. She is fond of ostentation and display. She takes great joy in being the center of the court and an object of universal admiration. Anne clothes herself in the most striking colours. The striking colours serve as a foil to her vivacious personality and allow her to walk about with pomp and swagger. The dark colours render her with a commanding presence and a majestic bearing. Dresses are the extension of Anne’s personality. While Jane uses soft colours to efface her character, Anne uses colours to stun and impress.
The image of King Henry’s infested legs
King Henry suffers from leg injuries during his mid-age, leaving his legs infested and swelling. The image of his wounded legs symbolizes the passing of his youth. In his youth, Henry has always been proud of his impressive physiognomy, his powerful frame and his shapely legs. Mary Boleyn worships him as a golden prince, the most handsome king in Christendom. As Henry ages, he starts to lose his health, vigour and physical beauty. He becomes overweight and is plagued with leg wounds. The abominable sight of Henry’s infested legs indicates that his best years are behind him. He is now a man approaching old age. The imagery of Henry’s legs emphasizes the urgency of having a male heir, because he could succumb to old-age at any time, leaving England at the risk of civil war. Henry is acutely conscious that he has little time to lose in fathering a male heir. His infested legs act as a constant reminder that he is no longer a man in the prime of his youth. As old-age creeps on him, Henry is rapidly losing patience and starts to resort to radical measures, such as breaking with the Catholic church, divorce and execution, in the hopes of getting a legitimate male successor.
Queen Katherine’s royal image
Queen Katherine is described as possessing a confident poise and a regal bearing. She always presents a majestic image to the court. Even Anne fails to emulate Katherine’s impeccably dignified image. Katherine’s regal poise testifies to her noble birth and royal breeding. Anne is a social climbing parvenu, for all of her cunning skills; she could not imitate Katherine’s innate sense of majesty. Katherine’s regal image shows that majesty is not a quality which could be acquired with skills; it is an inborn and hereditary quality. The fact that Anne is unable to measure up to Katherine’s regal poise indicates that queenship is not congenial to Anne. Anne may dress in the most beautiful gowns and wields a commanding presence at court, but she lacks the grace and the poise of a queen. Even the most splendid royal trappings could not disguise the fact that Anne Boleyn was a low-ranking aristocrat who is unfit to occupy her august position.
Queen Katherine’s simple clothing
As King Henry plans for his divorce, he orders Queen Katherine not to dress too finely. In the Renaissance, sumptuary law commands women to dress according to their rank and station. A queen can dress in the most splendid clothing, while women of lower ranks are prohibited from dressing too finely. Sumptuary law preserves the conservative social hierarchy and prevents the lower classes from usurping the privileges of the upper echelons. By asking a queen to dress simply, King Henry reverses the workings of the sumptuary law. As Katherine is about to lose her title as a queen, she starts to lose a queen’s privileges. She can no longer dress in the royal trappings befitting to a queen. She must bid farewell to her once majestic regal image and to refashion herself in a more modest image as she prepares to step down from her throne. She is forced to surrender her royal trappings, including her royal jewels for Anne Boleyn. King Henry transfers Katherine’s royal rights onto Anne Boleyn, who starts to fashion herself in the image of queen by donning the most gorgeous gowns. The image of Katherine’s simply looking garments serve as a physical manifestation of her fall.
Update this section!
You can help us out by revising, improving and updating