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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES
ACT II, SCENE I
The scene shows two men discussing Buckingham’s trial. They are sorry that the Duke has been found guilty. According to them the Duke is innocent and is the victim of Wolsey’s Conspiracy. Buckingham addresses the people gathered in the street and bids them an emotional farewell as he is being led to his execution. Word has reached the public of the King’s intended divorce to Katherine. The people feel that someone has wrongly incited the King against her. The Divorce is seen as an evil greater than Buckingham’s execution. Cardinal Campeius has arrived in connection with the divorce.
It is a simple scene of great dramatic importance. By showing a conversation that occurs between two men on the street, the audience is shown another dimension of history that is, the viewpoint of the common man. It offers a different perspective on what is happening behind the palace walls.
The men are depicted as clear minded, thinking people with firm opinions. The Duke of Buckingham is a man of many virtues; the people know this and are saddened by his execution. In spite of the trial, they know Wolsey engineered the whole act. It says a lot the King is in the dark about what happens behind the scenes but the populace can’t be deceived.
Of note in this scene is Buckingham’s emotional farewell speech. It appears melodramatic in today’s light but Shakespeare’s audiences were used to such devices and emotional eulogies, speeches and executions were very popular with the crowds.
In the last scene, the King met Anne Bullen for the first time. That meeting sparks off a chain of events finally leading to the King’s divorce from Katherine. This scene shows how far the matter has advanced. There has been a swift progression of events from the last scene, advancing the plot rapidly toward its climax the King’s marriage to Anne Bullen.
The merit of the sun lies in its elegant simplicity. It figuratively takes the audience into the streets and lets them peer into the hearts and minds of people who walk these streets. It effectively provides a means for the audience to obtain a feel of how the country is reacting to the major political events of their days.