Study Guide

Henry VIII Manipulation

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"Come into my web, said the spider to the fly." We've all heard the one where the spider pretends to flatter the fly—just long enough to lure him in to his parlor and kill him. If we didn't know any better, we'd say that sounds exactly like what Wolsey is up to in Henry VIII.

Just like that spider, Wolsey 1) is a deceitful, smart villain trying to control someone else; 2) has a vulnerable or naive person in his web; and 3) has the ability to flatter and praise in order to get something for himself. Translation: Wolsey is a master manipulator.

Someone needs to take a broom to Henry's palace, because there are cobwebs all over the place. Yup: everybody seems to be manipulating everybody else, since everybody is after just a little more status and power. Is that just the way royal courts work?

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Who do you think is more manipulative: Wolsey or the council members? In what ways are Wolsey and the council similar to one another? Different?
  2. Is there any action in the play that isn't manipulative? Why or why not?
  3. In Henry VIII, is manipulation always a bad thing? What about when the nobles are trying to show Henry how controlling Wolsey is?

Chew on This

Wolsey only manipulates Henry for personal gain. From the beginning, he controls Henry so that Henry will act in ways that benefit no one else but Wolsey.

The council members are as bad as Wolsey because they want to get rid of Cranmer without a proper trial.

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