Character Analysis of Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII Essay Example

Nothing can shatter a person more than when everything they are gets ripped away beneath their feet and worse it's done so by someone very close to them. In the play Henry VIII by William Shakespeare. He’s able to perfectly capture and recount the moment when Cardinal Wolsey was dismissed as the king's advisor and how his emotions fluctuate throughout his speech. William Shakespeare is able to do so by using figurative language, a shift in tone and an allusion to help him further emphasize how Cardinal felt.

William Shakespears speech starts out with Cardinal Wolsey being resentful and petty towards the king after being removed from his high ranking position. He starts off with making a snarky comment “Little good you bear me” indicates that Cardinal felt that the king never did much to help him. Which further implies that the king never truly lived up to his possible promise that would favor a person such as Cardinal himself being money, power and glory. Rather the king gave him the short end of the stick. Leaving him like a “poor man that hangs on princes’ favors!” revealing that although Cardinal hold a high position in court he truly felt useless. He was only needed when the king had an inquiry that needed to be answered. That further illustrates how Cardinals feeling towards being dismissed went from resentful to understanding of his current situation.  

Cardinals emotional change is further developed using figurative language that emphasizes the pride he carried with him and eventually his inevitable downfall. “The tender leaves of hopes, to morrow-blossoms” the tender leaves illustrate his way to the top and the excitement he held within himself to his journey to becoming the king's advisor. Once he was chosen he ‘blossomed” it was like god himself was giving him a blessing. “ This many summers in a sea of glory” Cardinal only thought better of himself from there on and all he could see was his breathtaking power. However whatever is given can be taken away. “The third day comes a frost, a killing frost” the kings quick and abrupt decision is shocking and most certainly leaves a bad aftertaste in Cardinal Wolsey's mouth. “My high-blown pride at length broke under me, and now has left me” he has had the rug pulled under him. He no longer had the kings support and was left in the dark, to comfort himself as he felt the walls tumbling down and his heart aching “ I feel my heart new open’d” however to also look within himself and question why did this happen why did he all of a sudden get dismissed. 

There's nothing more inconsolable than getting cut off from someone you look up to. Towards the end of his speech, Cardinal makes a comparison between himself and Lucifer. An angel that once served God and did everything that was asked of him to please him, an advisor. So in what we can only assume is that Cardinal was quickly exiled after being dismissed and in a time where your title defined your entire being and near impossible to ever go up to the social status. Cardinal had completely become literally nothing. With Cardinal seeing the king and holding such a high position in his eyes the king was no different to god but rather the same. No one yet someone who will never see the light of day as he once did because now he was stuck in a place of darkness with no escape and no hope to save him.

William Shakespeare was able to use figurative language, shift in tone and an allusion to describe how Cardinal went from feeling resentful to despair in a matter of minutes. Putting in hence that a person's emotion can change just like that with any impactful event.



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