Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Competition

By Philippa Gregory

Competition

Ever since cavemen wrangled with mammoths, trained them as mounts, and battled each other in a version of joust-meets-Pokémon, humans have competed in something. These competitions range from sports and video games to trying to get the most Instagram followers. (Give up now. You'll never beat Selena Gomez.)

In 16th-century England, people didn't have tablets to play with and see who could stay on the leaderboard in agar.io the longest. So instead, they turned real life into a game. Who needs to make little dots eat each other and get bigger when you can devour your friends (metaphorically) and ruin their lives for your own personal gain? The only way to win is to not play.

Throughout The Other Boleyn Girl, we see all kinds of competition: jousting, archery, bridge, and the most dangerous game of all—the game of love. Who dares wins, and whoever loses dies.

Questions About Competition

  1. What drives Anne's desire to be the best?
  2. Are Anne and Mary more competitive than most sisters?
  3. Why does Mary decide to stop competing with Anne?
  4. Why is competition popular in Henry's court? How do people behave in games with Henry, such as tennis and jousting?

Chew on This

Anne and Henry are made for each other because they both resort to dirty tactics to win—and they throw fits when they don't get their way.

When playing games with the King, everyone always lets him win…and everything is a game to the king. The whole world is his game board to play with.