Henry VIII

Wolsey’s Complex Response 12th Grade

This excerpt from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII describes Cardinal Wolsey’s reaction to his sudden dismissal from his position as advisor to the king. On a deeper level, this soliloquy displays Wolsey’s unfiltered and complex emotions as he thinks out loud, revealing a change in how he views the monarchical system. Indicated through figurative language, allusions, and tone shifts, Cardinal Wolsey undergoes an intricate process of self-reflection as he evaluates the nature of his downfall due to his tragic flaw as well as reveals the injustice of the monarchy.

Wolsey’s metaphors and bitter but remorseful tone display the confused nature of his emotions, revealing the great immediate psychological impact of his dismissal. As Wolsey begins to process what has just happened to him, his repetition of the word “farewell” (1/2) represents his initial shock and bewilderment. In an attempt to comfort himself, he bitterly bids his position “farewell” (1), falsely convincing himself that his position is only of “little good” (1) to him. However, his pathetic self-consolation is short-lived since he soon recognizes the reality that he is saying “a long farewell to all [his] greatness” (2), which he may never be able to attain again. He...

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