Study Guide

Henry VIII Act 3, Scene 1

By William Shakespeare

Act 3, Scene 1

Read the full text of Henry VIII Act 3 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Katherine is in her room listening to music when Wolsey arrives with Campeius and asks to speak with her in private.
  • No thanks, Katherine replies. She says she's got nothing to hide, so she's happy to talk there, in front of her servants.
  • Wolsey assures Katherine that they're just there to get her thoughts on her split with Henry, and to give her some advice.
  • Katherine knows better. She tells the audience that the cardinals are there to betray her, but she tells them that she appreciates their kindness toward her.
  • Katherine thinks of herself as "a woman friendless" because once the king gets rid of her, no one will want anything to do with her.
  • Wolsey and Campeius comfort her: there's no way that will happen, they say. The king will take care of her, even once they're divorced.
  • Katherine's had enough: she calls Wolsey and Campeius posers. They're acting all comforting to her when really all they want is her ruin. She can't believe they are men of the Church—it's bad enough that they are hypocrites, but they are supposed to be men of God. They should be ashamed of how corrupt they are. Burn.
  • Campeius tells Katherine she's wrong. Wolsey claims they're just there to help.
  • Katherine continues speaking out against Wolsey and Campeius. She's been honorable and obedient to her hubby, and still these dudes have plotted against her. She's been a good wife, so what more could they ask?
  • Finally, Wolsey steps in and tells Katherine that it's best if she doesn't try to fight the divorce; it will be easier for her if she just lets it happen.
  • Campeius agrees, and he and Wolsey comfort Katherine by saying once again that the king will take care of her even after their split.
  • Katherine doesn't really see any other option, so she tells Wolsey and Campeius to do whatever they want. Then she tells them that if she's misunderstood their intentions, it's because she's a woman and therefore doesn't have any wit or intelligence.
  • Katherine is totally being sarcastic, but we're not sure if Wolsey and Campeius see it.