Study Guide

Henry VIII Act 2, Scene 3

By William Shakespeare

Act 2, Scene 3

Read the full text of Henry VIII Act 2 Scene 3 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Anne and an Old Lady dish about the king leaving his wife. Anne thinks the whole thing is really sad; she points out that Katherine has lived a good life and has always been above reproach, but it doesn't matter now: she's on the losing end of this one.
  • Anne even goes as far to say that it's better to be poor than to be born rich and then become poor. At least if it's all you've ever known, you can't mourn for what you've lost.
  • Following this train of thought, Anne declares: "I would not be a queen." Um, okay.
  • The Old Lady calls Anne's bluff: it would be awesome to be queen, she says. Think about all the power and money you could have.
  • But Anne sticks to her story: she'll never be royal, she says. It's just not in her blood. She wouldn't become queen for all the money in the world.
  • There's some more ribbing as Anne and the Old Lady playfully argue about what it would be like to be queen. The Old Lady throws in a few jokes about oral sex and having sex and fornication with the king.
  • Just then, Lord Chamberlain enters, asking to speak with Anne privately. He tells her the king wants to give her a swanky title—Marchioness of Pembroke—and some bling.
  • Anne is blown away and says thanks. As Chamberlain is leaving, he calls Anne a "gem" because she's so pretty and honorable.
  • The Old Lady points out that if Anne gets this new title and cash without even trying, then there could be all kinds of gifts in the future. The Old Lady herself been around the block more than once, and she never received this kind of thing.
  • Anne takes it all in stride. She asks the Old Lady not to mention any of this to Katherine: the poor queen is grieving, and it wouldn't be nice to rub this in her face.