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Wolf Hall | Study Guide

Hilary Mantel

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Wolf Hall | Part 4, Chapter 3 : Early Mass, November 1532 | Summary

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Summary

When Cromwell wakes up the next morning from a poor night's sleep, the king has already left for Mass. Cromwell recalls Wolsey had told him, on a previous trip to France, to watch for signs that Henry and Anne had gone to bed together, saying he would know by the king's face. Cromwell makes his way to the church, where the people have gathered to see the nobles. He sees Anne come out. He sees the king's regal glance as he scans the crowd. He sees the king smile and put on a new hat—one with a feather.

Analysis

The restless night Cromwell endures parallels the wedding night of the king. But the rainy, gloomy weather and Cromwell's image of "people waiting to see the lords come out still [having] their coats pulled over their heads, like a new race of walking decapitees" is jarring. The image seems to suggest a mindless or zombie-like attitude on the part of the crowd. This may be a comment on the way the crowd mindlessly seeks after glimpses of the celebrities—royals—or how the common people are forced to accept the Church's doctrines without being able to think critically about them.

The king's new hat, with its flashy feather, clearly symbolizes his new start in life and marriage. Placing a feather in your cap is a sign of achievement—often in hunting. The king has achieved his purpose and caught his prey.

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