They're raised, groomed, and collected to be used as bargaining chips in business and political transactions. They're not considered full citizens, and they barely have any rights or agency over their own actions. No, we're not talking about livestock or Hearthstone cards. We're talking about women in 16th-century England.
We could also be talking about women in the 1950s. Progress is slow.
But things change because not everyone conforms to the status quo. Over the course of The Other Boleyn Girl, Mary goes from not having a choice in anything, to making choices that change her life forever, and for the better. By making her narrator a young woman, Philippa Gregory gives the women of this era a voice.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What is the role of women in 16th-century English society?
- Would you characterize either Anne or Mary as a feminist?
- What can women do in the 16th century that men cannot? Do they have power, agency, or other resources that men do not?
- Does Anne change the impression the public has of women at that time?
Chew on This
As Mary grows as a character, we see her evolve from obedient daughter and wife to a woman who makes a life of her own.
Women are expected to do men's bidding. Even the queen is no exception; she must bend to the will of the king.