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Written by Yang (Jenny) Bai
Anne Boleyn’s motto “The most happy”
There is nothing more ironic than Anne Boleyn’s motto “The most happy”. To the world, Anne presents herself as a glorious queen basking in splendor and majesty. She puts on the most luxurious royal trappings and presents the most perfect façade of happiness to the world. She is always singing, dancing, hunting and engaging in joyous activities. She is a consummate actress and never drops a hint which could suggest the agonizing suffering within her. However, her motto could not have been further from truth. Being a queen has only brought misery and suffering to Anne. She is consumed by fear and agony. She is an embattled queen who is surrounded by enemies, adversaries and spies. Her court is filled with attractive young noblewomen who threaten to usurp the king’s affection. Her family regards her as a dispensable pawn to be used for the family’s advantages. The whole country is united in their opposition against this usurper queen. Without a son to protect her, Anne can be put aside anytime at the king’s pleasure. During her tenure, Anne is weighted down by her fears and has aged beyond her years. Her motto proclaims her to be the happiest woman in the realm, while in fact she is the most miserable woman in the kingdom.
Anne’s belief that she is superior to Mary
After Anne’s engagement to the king, she starts to give herself airs and treat her family members with haughty disdain. She dismisses her sister Mary as a commoner of no significance. Anne entertains the belief that she is Mary’s superior in physical beauty. She also believes that her fate is much glorious and happy than Mary’s lot. Anne regards herself as the model of success, and views Mary as a pathetic failure and a woman who has missed her chances. Anne’s superiority complex is deeply ironic. Anne is not superior to Mary in beauty, for Anne is aged beyond her years by worries, while Mary still possesses her girlish countenance. Anne’s position is much worse than Mary’s, for she is consumed by fear and suffering, while Mary lives a life of insouciance and contentment. Mary has two beautiful children and a loving husband; while Anne is barren and is tied to a notoriously unfaithful husband. Mary’s position is secure and has nothing to lose, while Anne’s untenable position is teetering on the brink of collapse. In the end, it is Mary who emerges triumphant from the sibling rivalry, while Anne loses everything on the execution block. It is ironic that a woman who is consumed by superiority complex is the woman who ends up losing everything.
Jane Seymour’s “innocence”
Jane Seymour poses herself as a pliant, virtuous and innocent young lady who is indifferent to ostentation and display. To the world, she seems to be the polarized opposite of the scandalous Anne Boleyn. The king believes Jane to be a refreshing alternative to the calculating Anne Boleyn. He believes Jane to be the perfect model of modesty and grace, untainted by the corruption of the court. However, Jane Seymour’s motives are no less innocent than Anne’s. Like Anne, Jane is also used as a pawn to advance family interests. She is just as ambitious as Anne, and aims for the greatest prize of the court- the king’s hands in marriage. Her innocent appearance is a mask which disguises her mercenary ambitions. Jane’s angelic appearance and saintly demeanor are ironic because they mask an ambition that is nakedly mercenary. Jane Seymour is not a contrasting character to Anne Boleyn, she is in fact Anne’s double.
King Henry’s opinions of Anne Boleyn
Before King Henry’s marriage to Anne, he puts her on a pedestal and worships her as the embodiment of feminine perfection. When Queen Katherine accuses Anne of acting scandalously, Henry eagerly jumps into Anne’s defense and proclaims her as a woman of irreproachable character. King Henry’s high opinions for Anne could not have been more ironic. Anne is not a woman of irreproachable character, she is anything but. She is a woman of immodest ambition who is ready to deploy any device to become queen of England. However, in the heat of Henry’s passion, he is completely oblivious to Anne’s true colours. The irony of his opinions indicates that Henry is lacking in clear-sighted perceptiveness, and is often ruled by emotions than senses.
Anne Boleyn’s hope for a male heir and her deformed son
Anne’s most ardent desire is to conceive a male heir for England. If she succeeds in doing so, her position will be unassailable. As the mother of the future king, she will be beyond the reach of her enemies. The Boleyn family will be firmly united with the Tudor family forever. Anne channels all her energies and efforts towards this hope. She eats asparagus, says prayers and uses magic in the hope of getting a son. In her most desperate attempt, she even commits incest with her brother to conceive a child, because she fears that the king is impotent and could not succeed in fathering a son. As her brother George comments, she is ready to sell her soul to the devil if it could get her a son. It is ironic that after all her hopes and devious endeavors, Anne only gets a deformed stillbirth. It is ironic that Anne eventually succeeds in conceiving a son, but a son who is of no use to her because he is horribly deformed.
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