I do not understand the different themes behind the characters in Hillary Mantel's Bringing up the Bodies. I find it difficult. 

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mlsldy3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bringing up the Bodies, is the sequel to Wolf Hall. It tells the story of Henry VIII. In this book, we see the story of the downfall of Anne Boleyn. 

In Wolf Hall, we see a gentler side of Thomas Cromwell, and see his rise in power. Bringing up the Bodies shows us the more devious side to the man. He has now become the king's right hand man and one of the most powerful men in the country. He is secretary to the king and deputy to the king as head of the church of England. King Henry had spent 7 years trying to marry Anne Boleyn. He has now grown tired and disenchanted with her. Thomas Cromwell is just waiting for the word to bring her down. After Henry tells him what he wants to do, Cromwell sets about destroying Anne. The story takes us into the three weeks that Anne was ensnared in a web conspiracy against her. All the while, Jane Seymour, is standing in wait to marry the king. Cromwell goes about bringing charges of adultery and treason against Anne, and she is convicted and killed. We see a different side of Cromwell in this story. We see his secret grief and pain over the death of his wife, Elizabeth, and the deaths of his daughters, Anne and Grace, from the plague. He has let darkness take over his conscience now. He has worked so long for a king, who is going mad, and Thomas Cromwell is letting himself be sucked into this way of thinking. Although this is a work of fiction, the historical correctness of the book, make it really entertaining. 

The themes of the characters, are themes of deceit and power. All the men want the power to do what they want. They will use whatever means necessary to make this happen. King Henry is losing grip with reality and Cromwell is right there with him. We see a mean and powerful man doing whatever he can to stay in the good graces of the king. While reading this book, you get a sense of hatred for Cromwell and you have to ask yourself if this is really the man he was? We have seen in history, that these men would stop at nothing to get what they want and to keep the power they have.