Study Guide

Gardiner in Henry VIII

By William Shakespeare

Gardiner

First a secretary, then a council member, Gardiner makes quite an impact for a minor character. We think he'd be better off known as 007, because Gardiner is one sneaky little spy. When Wolsey assigns him to Henry's service, he's really sending in one of his own men to spy on the king. Gardiner confirms his allegiance to Wolsey by saying, "But to be commanded / forever by your grace, whose hand has raised me" (2.2.140-141).

That's right in front of the king, we might add.

Gardiner's sure got guts—we'll give him that. Even after Wolsey's been kicked out and Gardiner's been given a hefty promotion, this dude still feels some kind of loyalty to his old (now dead) boss, and he's not afraid to be vocal about it. He doesn't have a problem taking down Cranmer, whether the guy's guilty or not. This guy took his old boss's job, and Gardiner wants to make him pay.

Even when Henry's ring is revealed, Gardiner is the last to forgive and make up with Cranmer. This stubborn guy's not afraid to stand up to the king.

Does Wolsey really deserve this kind of loyalty? Why does Gardiner care about him so much? Are either of them sympathetic characters?

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