Study Guide

The Other Boleyn Girl Sex and Sexuality

By Philippa Gregory

Sex and Sexuality

Olde England has a reputation for sticking "e's" where they don't belong, and for being a bit uptight about sex. But that's Victorian England, where the collars were high and the skirts were long. In Henry's court—Henrian England, anyone?—people are pretty open about what goes on in the bedroom. Everyone knows who's doing whom…and what they're doing to each other.

Being the queen's mistress is public knowledge, and it's a title that neither Anne nor Mary is ever embarrassed about at any point during The Other Boleyn Girl. Sex may happen behind closed doors—they're not that open about it—but it isn't something inherently shameful, either.

Questions About Sex and Sexuality

  1. What is Mary's attitude toward sex with Henry? How does her opinion of sex change when she marries William Stafford?
  2. What does Mary teach Anne about sex?
  3. How is George's sexuality viewed by others?
  4. How are attitudes toward sex different today?

Chew on This

Like everything else in 16th-century England, sex is a tool used by men to control women. Sex is only about the man's pleasure, and men consider a woman's virginity a commodity worth bargaining for.

Henry is attracted to Anne's command over her own sexuality, yet he later turns around and condemns her for it, sentencing her to death for adultery she never committed.

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