Among the bevy of female characters to grace the Shakespearean stage, Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII is perhaps the most enigmatic. Despite the range of possibilities in other female roles-such as Cordelia and Desdemona, in whom one certainly finds desirable traits-Katherine stands out as a tragic heroine: a secure, strong-willed woman who is articulate, passionate, charismatic, and altruistic. The unique qualities of Katherine are achieved through Shakespeare's careful accretion of rhetorical devices in her speeches. Interestingly, however, the paucity of critical attention given to Katherine's language suggests that many scholars have relegated this great lady to secondary importance in the grand scheme of the play.
With Act II, Scene 4-the hall at Blackfriars-- Shakespeare provides the most complete rendering of Katherine as a dynamic character. Specifically, what should be noted here are what may be called "semantic signals" -that is, those expressions of humility Katherine employs which lead to her impassioned arguments. Still, there are some lines in Katherine's court speech which, if considered alone, pose problems in viewing her as the protagonist of the play. Thus, in an attempt to point to the importance of this scene, it is necessary to explore the scenes immediately before and after II.4 which involve Katherine. What will result, one hopes, is evidence of how Shakespeare's recurrent use of rhetorical paradox makes Katherine such an important dramatic figure.
Maria Dowling has written of Katherine's educational background and her contributions to women's learning opportunities, quoting a statement made by Erasmus: "The queen is astonishingly...
... middle of paper ...
...on in King Henry VIII.
Dowling, Maria. "A Woman's Place? Learning and the Wives of Henry VIII." History Today (June 1991): 38-42.
Elze, Karl. Essays on Shakespeare (1874) trans. By L. Dora Schmitz. London: Kennikat Press, 1970.
Hutchinson, F.E. Cranmer and the English Reformation. London: English Universities Press, 1965.
Kamps, Ivo. "Possible Pasts: Historiography and Legitimation in Henry VIII." College English 58: 2 (February 1996): 192-216.
Magnusson, A. Lynne. "The Rhetoric of Politeness and Henry VIII." Shakespeare Quarterly 43: 4 (Winter 1992): 391-409.
Scarisbrick, J.J. Henry VIII. Los Angeles, CA: U of California P, 1969.
Shakespeare, William. King Henry VIII. Ed. John Margeson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.
The Standard Dictionary of Facts. Ed. Henry W. Ruoff. Buffalo, NY: The Frontier Press, 1913.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Henry VIII of England[1509-1547] By Kent McMahon King Henry VIII of England is the most infamous and notorious of all the Monarchs of England. He was a vile and heartless man who beheaded over 72,000 people in his 38 year reign and called for public celebration when his first wife, Catherine of Aragorn died on the 7th of January,1536. King Henry VIII was born on the 28th of June,1491 in Greenwich Palace. He was the 3rd of seven children of King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, and Elizabeth of York.... [tags: Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn]
2250 words (6.4 pages)
- ... Additionally, with no valid heir presented, it provided an opportunity for rivals to renew hostilities. When it became apparent that Catherine would not able to bear any more children due to her age, Henry soon tired of her and found interest in one of her maids, Anne Boleyn. He was infatuated with her and began courting her. Being a Catholic, there was no such thing as a divorce, so he demanded an annulment. The only person who could grant this was Pope Clement VII. Henry believed that the stillborns were a divine sign from God that marrying his brother’s widow was a sin.... [tags: Henry VIII of England, English Reformation]
1273 words (3.6 pages)
- When Henry VIII ascended to the throne in 1509, he became yet another English monarch without absolute power over his realm. Despite not having the same authority as his contemporary European monarchs, Henry was the recipient of two very important prerequisites for a successful reign. The first was a full treasury and the second was a peaceful transfer of power, which had been anything but certain in England since the War of the Roses. At first he was content to enjoy the fruits of his father’s labor, but ultimately he sought glory in his own name.... [tags: King Henry VIII Essays]
2275 words (6.5 pages)
- In 817 Alfred the Great became England’s first ruler, he was the first of many to come. The many King and Queens of England are divided into different eras by families. One of the families was the Tudor family, which is a well-known English monarchy. The Tudors were a family that ruled England from 1485 to 1603 whom ranged from Henry VII to Elizabeth I these rulers were well known because of different attributes they gave England. I will be providing information about all six rulers that reigned England in this distinctive dynasty.... [tags: the tudor family, Henry VII]
1197 words (3.4 pages)
- Henry VIII's legacy is one of the greatest in English history. He is best known for his political success, his many marriages, and his break from the Catholic Church.1 Henry VIII was able to achieve greatness through being an effective leader, changing the religious structure, and his six marriages.2 Because of this, he was able to become the most celebrated monarch in English history.3 Henry VIII achieved such a successful legacy because of his willingness to take risks. He led a campaign in his loyal Catholic country to renounce the pope, accept him as the leader of the Church of England, and fight against the Pope, his major opposition.4 This act of defiance permanently shifted the religi... [tags: Henry VIII Biography]
2614 words (7.5 pages)
- Henry VIII (1491-1547) was the King of England from 1510 to 1547. He was a unique king with talent in music and sports. He married six wives during his life, and he influenced England a lot during his reign. This paper will examine his early life, his marriages with his six wives, his success in many battles, becoming the head of the Anglican Church, and his life as the King of England. Henry VIII was born on June 28, a rainy day in the summer of 1491, at Greenwich Palace in England (Godwin 17). He was the third child and second son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. He had an elder brother Arthur, an elder sister Margaret, and a younger sister Mary. He also had three othe... [tags: Essays in Henry VIII 2014]
2600 words (7.4 pages)
- Katherine of Aragon is famous for being the first of Henry VIII’s many wives, the one who fought back and defended her papally sanctioned marriage; the mother of Mary I; and the daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, founders of the kingdom of España. These facts place her in the position of a traditional sixteenth century woman by defining her as wife, mother, and daughter. In these roles, many women have been overlooked as the subject of their own study, and it certainly makes sense to do this, as on the surface they are not in control of their own agency.... [tags: Henry VIII, Isabella and Ferdinand]
1477 words (4.2 pages)
- Henry Tudor, the son of Henry VII of England and Elizabeth York, was born on June 28, 1491. Henry had six siblings but only three survived: Arthur, Margaret, and Mary. Arthur was older than Henry and was expected to be the heir of the throne. Arthur married Catherine of Argon and after less than four months of marriage, Arthur died at the age of 15. This meant that Henry was to heir the throne now. As a child Henry was so spoiled that he would have to be punished for every time he did something wrong.... [tags: henry tudor, arthur, margaret]
534 words (1.5 pages)
- ... Six years following the birth of his illegitimate son, Henry decided he was done with Catherine, and became more intrigued with the sister of one of his past mistresses, Anne Boleyn. In the beginning of the king's infatuation, Anne was not interested, but as time passed she grew fonder of him (Weir 40). Once Catherine was no longer able to produce the heir that Henry so desperately desired, he took it into his own hands to get the marriage annulled in order to re-marry. By 1527, he convinced himself that his marriage to Catherine acted directly against a passage in the Bible found in Leviticus 20:21.... [tags: henry tudor, england, anne boleyn]
2020 words (5.8 pages)
- Henry VIII Crowned on 1509 King Henry was an athletic yet cheery man. He liked hunting and music very much. King Henry later in his years became outrageously fat. At a time he could barley become helped on his horse. The king married for love and rode, he carried the queen’s colors. Under his first banner of "Sir Loyal Heart" he had a big uprising with new wives. He was a catholic. At one point the pope declared him " defender of the faith" but then he turned his back on that name and declared himself the great supreme head of the Church of England.... [tags: essays research papers]
560 words (1.6 pages)