Study Guide

Henry VIII Act 4, Scene 2

By William Shakespeare

Act 4, Scene 2

Read the full text of Henry VIII Act 4 Scene 2 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Over at Katherine's pad, her usher Griffith tells her about the death of Cardinal Wolsey. Once he was arrested, he got sick and died.
  • Katherine is not one to hold a grudge, so she says she'll speak kindly of him, but she does note that his ambition caused major problems for England. Plus, he was just a bad example of a clergyman: he lied and took bribes, and that's just not right for a religious man to do.
  • Griffith doesn't agree. He thinks Wolsey was a good man who came from a humble background but grew into a scholar. Sure, he made some mistakes, but who hasn't?
  • Griffith also reminds Katherine that when Wolsey died, he was a God-fearing man.
  • Griffith's little speech moves Katherine. She decides that when she dies, she wants Griffith to eulogize her because he talks so well.
  • Katherine asks Griffith to get her musicians to play for her while she rests. Once she's asleep, Griffith, too, sits down patiently.
  • That's when the nightmare begins. No, really: Katherine sees six people in white robes and golden masks carrying branches. They dance and curtsy to her, and then they give her a garland. Then they dance away.
  • Wait, what?
  • Katherine wakes up and is confused. She wants to understand what she saw, so she tells her dream to her servants.
  • Griffith says he's happy Katherine is seeing such good dreams. Katherine orders the music to stop and questions what she saw.
  • Then Griffith tells another servant named Patience that seeing such wild apparitions is a bad sign. Katherine must not have long to live.
  • Just then, a messenger brings news of Capuchius's arrival. He's an ambassador from Spain, and he asks after Katherine's health for her dad.
  • Katherine reports that she's weak but comforted by prayers. Then she remembers that she wrote a letter to Henry, and she asks Capuchius to deliver it to him.
  • When Capuchius agrees, Katherine tells us what the letter says: she wants Henry to care for their daughter and her servants, even though he has remarried.
  • Katherine also mentions that she'll die soon and won't be of any trouble to the king. Katherine asks Capuchius to remind Henry how humble she's been. Then she gets ready for bed.