Henry VIII

by: William Shakespeare

Act I, Scenes iii-iv

Henry meets Anne Bullen, his next wife and mother of the future Queen Elizabeth, at Wolsey's party. Anne is quite talkative with Sands but exchanges nearly no words with Henry. Many parts of Anne's role appear offstage; she decides to marry Henry, actually marries him, is crowned, and gives birth to Elizabeth all offstage. Unlike Katharine, who speaks many impassioned lines, Anne's role in this play is minimal, with little to give her a sense of personality and hardly any lines to speak.

In many ways, the goal of this play is for Queen Elizabeth to be born. Wolsey stands in the way of that goal because he schemes for Henry's next wife to be the French king's sister; only by accident does he allow Henry and Anne to meet. Wolsey's downfall comes from his perceived treason; but in the grander arc of this play, he must fall because he does not encourage ties between Henry and Anne, which will lead to the birth of Elizabeth and ultimately the rule of the king contemporary in Shakespeare's time, James I.