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Henry VIII | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Henry VIII | Act 1, Scene 3 | Summary



Lord Chamberlain and Lord Sands are in an antechamber of the palace, discussing their irritation that English gentlemen who travel to France often adopt the ridiculous French fashions. Lovell enters and says a proclamation has been made: English courtiers must swear off their inclinations toward French culture. The nobles briefly discuss a large dinner party Wolsey is giving later in the evening. They agree Wolsey's generosity is evidence of his nobility.


Making fun of the French is common in Shakespeare, and reflects English attitudes toward France at the time. The English thought the French ornate and silly. Their judgment is called into question, however, when they speak of Wolsey in glowing terms. In dramatic irony typical of Shakespeare, the audience is aware of Wolsey's scheming nature, but the play's characters are not.

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