Foreshadowing In Wolf Hall

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In the novel Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel, the author grants insight into the burning of a so-called “heretic” by the name of Joan Boughton through John Foxe, author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. The episode is described in improvised detail by Mantel from the view point of a young Thomas Cromwell. Mantel’s account includes the securing of Mrs. Boughton to the stake she would be burned at, the sound of her screams as the fire licked her flesh, the jeering of the crowd, the primal enjoyment had at this brutal scene by the spectators, all of these details being offset only by his own interpreted discomfort at witnessing this. This supposed distress provides a direct line into the character of Thomas Cromwell as depicted in the novel by Mantel. This passage is also used to exemplify the frame of mind of the times Cromwell lived in, along with his own opinions on the matter as she records him asking, “Does nobody pray for her?” and his declination to “have a go” at the burnt widow’s skull, offered by one of the onlookers who had …show more content…

The list of the persecuted includes many such as Cardinal Wolsey, Little Bilney, and he even shows a modicum of sympathy towards Thomas More. She writes while adding plenty of additional details on the aftermath of Boughton’s burning, “When they had got a bowlful, the woman who was holding it said: ‘Give me your hand.’ Trusting, he held it out to her. She dipped her fingers into the bowl. She placed on the back of his hand a smear of mud and grit, fat and ash. ‘Joan Boughton,’ she said”, as if to illustrate the act of him taking some of the beliefs of the woman unto himself, which lends credence to the affable views she depicts him as holding towards the Protestants, and even Thomas

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