Study Guide

Council Members: Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, and Lord Chamberlain in Henry VIII

By William Shakespeare

Council Members: Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, and Lord Chamberlain

These lords of the court are mostly around for—you guessed it—the court scenes. They help read charges and hear evidence in a case; they also give us some insight into what people think of the events that we're seeing.

When Buckingham first accuses Wolsey of being corrupt, for example, Norfolk doesn't believe him. In fact, he thinks Buckingham is just dissing Wolsey because the Cardinal never liked the guy much.

But by the time Henry is divorcing Katherine, Norfolk catches on, and he, Suffolk, and Surrey team up against Wolsey for a classic takedown. For Surrey, it's personal—Buckingham was his father-in-law, and he wants to make sure Wolsey pays for having the guy arrested.

After Wolsey is out of the way, Suffolk and Norfolk get promoted, and they're no longer so easily fooled. In fact, the lords are at the ready when they suspect Cranmer of double-dealing: they work hard to try to boot him out of the kingdom as well, until Henry steps in and saves the guy.

The council members show us that not everything is black and white when it comes to politics. Sometimes these dudes go against a two-timing schemer (Wolsey), while at other times they try to overthrow people who seem basically okay (Cranmer). They're just around to show us that everybody gets fooled in politics sometimes—and that the world of politics is a pretty fickle one.

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