List of Characters

Jane Parker—George Boleyn's wife through arranged marriage.

Francis Weston—courtier with whom George Boleyn has a homosexual affair.

Sir Thomas Boleyn—Anne, Mary, and George's father.

Elizabeth Howard Boleyn—Sir Thomas's wife.

Thomas Howard—head of Howard-Boleyn family, one of the more important men in England.

Duke of Buckinghamshire—distant relative of the Boleyn's who is beheaded at the beginning of the novel for insulting the king.

King Henry VIII—King of England (1491–1547, in real life).

Queen Katherine of Aragon—Henry's first wife of Spanish origins. Daughter of
Queen Isabella of Spain.

Princess Mary—child of King Henry and Queen Katherine.

Bessie Blount—former mistress of king before Mary Boleyn.

Henry Fitzroy—son of Bessie Blount and King Henry.

Henry Percy—friend of Anne and George. He is accused and beheaded for adultery with Anne.

Charles of Spain—nephew of Queen Katherine who turns against King Henry.

Jane Seymour—young girl of the Seymour family who wins the king's fancy after Anne cannot conceive a son.

Madge Shelton—one of the Howard-Boleyn family put in King Henry’s favor to steer him away from Jane Seymour.   

Thomas Wolsey—Lord Chancellor to King Henry. Wolsey is the Pope’s consent for the king’s divorce from Katherine.

Thomas More—becomes the king's chancellor after Wolsey is dismissed. More resigns rather than give approval to king for his divorce from Katherine.

Character Analysis

The main focus of Gregory's novel is on the two Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne.The contrast between them is what turns the story. They are both described as beautiful and sensual, but Anne is often described as more intelligent than Mary. This assessment, though, is somewhat questionable. Anne being more intelligent is a statement that often comes from Anne's own mouth or that of the girls' Uncle Howard. Anne is more aware of worldly affairs. She reads intellectual discourses that are popular for her time, and so she appears to be more intelligent. She is also more cunning than Mary. Anne is always scheming for her own benefit. Once she is trained on a specific goal, she will do anything to attain it.

Mary, on the other hand, has a more of an emotional intelligence. Though she was first married by arrangement, she later learns to love her husband. When she is forced to bed with the king, she finds reasons to love him too. When she becomes a mother, she learns a deeper form of love and begins to question her obligations to the political motivations of her family. She craves to be with her children, to raise them herself, rather than turning them over to the court. In the end, Mary falls in love with a man without title, a man who works for her uncle. William Stafford is an independent man who teaches Mary to think for herself. William's love has no other motivation than to find and to give happiness.

There are other differences between the two sisters. Mary is somewhat submissive, at least to a point. Anne, however, becomes hysterical in her demands as she rises in power. She dismisses her family once she rises to the top even though her family members, especially Mary and her brother George have sacrificed their own needs to ensure that Anne gains the queen's crown. Where Anne once had power over Henry by pretending to love him, once they are married and she is...

(The entire section is 761 words.)