Study Guide

Buckingham in Henry VIII

By William Shakespeare

Buckingham

If only everyone would have listened to Buckingham. From the very beginning, the this dude sees right through Wolsey. He boldly proclaims, "No man's pie is freed / from his ambitious finger"—and that's totally Wolsey he's talking about (1.1.61-62). Too bad he's arrested in the very same scene. Wolsey's already heard of Buckingham's whining, and he doesn't want it to get back to the king, so he arranges to have Buckingham executed.

Well, that's one way to deal with it; you can't accuse Wolsey of being inefficient.

It's pretty obvious that Wolsey is bad news, but what about Buckingham? Did he actually talk about wanting to be king, as Wolsey and the Surveyor claim? Or, was the whole thing an elaborate set-up by? Shakespeare doesn't like to tell us everything, so we've got to make up our own minds.

What we do know is that Buckingham comes out looking like the better guy. Even when he's about to be executed, he's gracious and kind, unlike Wolsey. Buckingham announces, "those that sought it I could wish more Christian. / Be what they will, I heartily forgive 'em" when the topic of his accusers comes up (2.1.81-82). Wow, that guy's more forgiving than we would be.

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