Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Love

By Philippa Gregory

Love

"He loves her," I said. "It's a wonderful love story. Her married to his brother and his brother dying like that, so young, and then her not knowing what she should do or where she could go, and then him taking her and making her his wife and his queen. It's a wonderful story and he loves her still." (2.55)

Mary is telling Henry and Katherine's story, but her own story will eerily mimic this one. Her husband will die, she will feel lost, and another man will make her his wife and treat her like a queen.

"I promise you, it's no game to me, Your Majesty." (2.386)

Henry wants Mary's love to be real, not because he loves her, but because of he has a fragile ego.

"But I am a girl of fourteen in love for the first time!" I exclaimed.

"Exactly," he said unforgivingly. "That's why we listen to Anne." (2.79-2.80)

Mary's feelings are constantly dismissed by her family. They expect her to be cold and calculating at all times. In other words, they want her to be like Anne. When Anne later says she loves Henry Percy, the family stops listening to her temporarily.

"I want the man. Not because he's king." (3.32)

It's difficult to tell if Mary really loves Henry, or if her love is the naïve crush of a young woman. Whatever it is, first loves and crushes like these are very powerful.

"Whatever does it mean? We write poems about it all day and sing songs about it all night but if there is such a thing in real life I'm damned if I know." (3.77)

The Boleyns don't know love, because love isn't allowed to be a factor in their decisions. All their relationships are calculated for business purposes. George especially is distant from love. As a gay man at a time when homosexuality is punishable by death, love—at least the outward, socially acceptable display of it—is foreign to him.

"If you were a nobody and I were a nobody I would love you." (3.155)

When Mary first falls for Henry, she believes this. But after returning from Hever, does she feel the same way? She might be saying this because it's what Henry wants to hear. Or maybe she wishes he were a nobody, so that they could both be nobodies together. Yeah, that will never happen.

Her dark eyes held him, the boy was transfixed. "Anne," he whispered. "My love. Her lips curved into a kissable, irresistible smile. "Henry," she breathed. "My Henry." (5.260)

Anne says she loves Henry Percy, but notice here that she doesn't say "love." She calls him "my Henry" as if she has him wrapped around her little finger, not like she actually loves him.

"You're always in love," Anne said crossly. "You're like a big butter ball, always oozing love for someone or other. Once it was the king and we did very well out of that. Now it's his baby, which will do us no good at all. But you don't care. It's always seep seep seep with you: passion and feeling and desire. It makes me furious." (9.124)

Anne sees love as a weakness, whether it's familial love between parent and child, or romantic love between two adults.

"Didn't I give up my only love, didn't I break my heart? Didn't you tell me then that it was worth the price?" (20.46)

Anne calls out George on his hypocritical attitude toward love. George thinks he should be allowed to pursue his love with Sir Francis Weston, even though he discouraged both sisters from pursuing the men they loved.

"I love him, George," I said very quietly.

[…]

"Doesn't make any difference to people like us. You know that." (35.84)

Mary ends up defying George and the rest of her family in the name of love. It's like stop, in the name of love—except she's starting in the name of love: starting to have a life of her own.