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Cardinal Wolsey's Speech Analysis

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In this speech, from William Shakespeare's Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey addresses his sudden downfall as adviser to the king. Shakespeare describes how Wolsey feels as he found out the news. Moreover, he shows the anger and disappointment one could feel when it’s unexpected. Wolsey’s monologue reveals both his anger and lamentation as he struggles to understand why this downfall has occurred. Shakespeare portrays Wolsey’s farewell with allusions and figurative language, accompanied by a vengeful tone. Shakespeare brings into this soliloquy a brief allusion from the bible to show the deepened emotion of Wolsey. Initially, Wolsey states “and when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,” comparing his fall to Lucifer’s. Their fall is devastating that they both will “never… hope again.” Before Lucifer's downfall, he was a magnificent being whom helped out God. Unfortunately, his pride took over his heart, costing him everything that he had. Similarly, Wolsey had a great position as the advisor, but his “greatness” overthrew him. Through this allusion, it…show more content…
Shakespeare employs a change of tone, or a volta, to convey Wolsey’s emotions. At first, the tone is bitter because Wolsey makes fun of himself losing the “little good.” Then, he describes the world as a “vain” and exclaims “I hate ye!” This vengeful tone reveals exactly how Wolsey feels towards the king. Immediately afterwards, the tone switches to hopelessness and desperation. Wolsey claims that his life as a “wretched” man has only led to his downfall, and shows self-pity as he names himself a “poor man.” The use of allusion, figurative language, and the change of tone in this soliloquy conveys Wolsey emotions towards his downfall. The metaphor and simile help out the images on Wolsey's explanations about his pride and hatred towards the royal family. Consequently, these comparisons bring out the fear Wolsey feels about not being honored for his
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