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AP Literature - The Art of Words

Hello!


In this blog, I will simply share an AP Exam Q1 essay I wrote that's on the prompt based on Cardinal Wolsey's soliloquy. I find this essay captures detail, sophisticated language and follows an AP Lit traditional essay format.

Switching to online school during COVID Lockdown was extremely challenging. I needed assistance beyond the classroom, therefore I found AP English tutors who weekly engaged in my studies to help me understand my assignments better. Jill, my Literature tutor was of great help. This is the final product I wrote, after weeks of writing essays and practicing how to effectively answer an AP Lit Exam Essay Q1 Prompt.


"In the following speech from Shakespeare’s play Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey considers his sudden downfall from his position as advisor to the king. Spokesmen for the king have just left Wolsey alone on stage. Read the speech carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how Shakespeare uses elements such as allusion, figurative language, and tone to convey Wolsey’s complex response to his dismissal from court."


My answer:

Cardinal Wolsey reflects upon his dismissal from being the advisor of the king. In this soliloquy from King Lear, Shakespeare illustrates the complexity of the grieving process after being fired unexpectedly. Through Wolsey’s tones regarding his dismissal, which is further exemplified through metaphors, hyperboles, and allusions, Shakespeare argues how these intense emotions of Wolsey’s represent his pride, regretful, and impulsive character. Wolsey characterizes himself as prideful through the tones of bitterness and being offended, after being laid off from Cardinal. He further creates his complex character who’s regretful by emphasizing his tones of embarrassment, self-realization, and utter regret. Eventually feeling this tone of Anger, insinuating his impulsive trait of rage and bitterness. 


Shakespeare introduces Wolsey’s attitude towards his dismissal, and feels almost offended that they let go of his “greatness”. He illustrates a sarcastic and slightly bitter tone, which highlights a part of his great extent of pride. Wolsey argues the stages of being a Cardinal as a blooming flower. Through this comparison, he illustrates those stages through a chronological sequence of days leading up to his dismissal. He says “to-day he puts forth, to-morrow blossoms/third day comes a killing frost”. Through the use of an extended metaphor which signifies his political career over a 3-day sequence, Wolsey argues how amazed and slightly sad he is from this experience. “To-day”, refers to the beginning of his journey as a Cardinal, “put forth” as he plants his flowers for his new job. The second stage “to-morrow” is when he grows fond of his achievements as the word “blushing” could refer to the praises he’s receiving, only solidifying his pride. The “third day”, the last stage of his short-lived journey was the dismissal, also like a “killing frost”. Wolsey says “killing”, describing the cruelty of the people who fired him for his delightful job. He uses such violent diction, almost to characterize him as the victim, and establish a bitter tone towards everyone who did him wrong. 


A slight shift occurs in Wolsey’s tone, as Shakespeare now establishes Wolsey’s character as “little wanton boys”. Wolsey conveys tones of realization, regret, and embarrassment, which creates his complex emotional thoughts, and further characterizes him as an agonized regretful person. Wolsey introduces a comparison between him and “wanton boys” who use floaties in a large sea. It is clear to recognize that these “boys” aren’t strong swimmers considering that they wear “bladders”, however, this contrasts with their belief that swimming in a sea, rather than a pool more suitable for their abilities. This correlates with Wolsey’s prideful character, and through the use of another extended metaphor, this idea is reinforced. Wolsey is overly prideful, and with the help of his “bladders”, known as his pride, he can swim in the “sea of glory”, a metaphor used to represent his job as Cardinal. However, his “high blown pride/broke under [him]” leaving him to be “weary and old/to the mercy”. This establishes a tone of regret and reinstates that his pride was his downfall. Wolsey hints at embarrassment as he would rather “for ever hide”, illustrating how ashamed he is. Wolsey is hit with a lot of emotional tensions, showing that he’s in the complex part of his grieving process. He is consumed by regret which further characterizes him as prideful. 


Shakespeare conveys tones of anger, and bitterness throughout the end of Wolsey’s soliloquy. Wolsey is angry at himself for reeling in the king like “princes' favors”. He is full of this bitter rage towards the king, almost blaming the king for his downfall, even after advising him. Wolsey says this pain is worse than the “pangs and fears” of “war” and relationship problems of “women”  Through this hyperbole, Wolsey exaggerates his situation but exemplifies the misery he feels. Wolsey furthers this anger through allusions, to “Lucifer”, and compares it to himself, as “God” is to the king. Lucifer's story correlates to Wolsey as he was also in the King’s best graces, but then he faces an ultimate betrayal of his downfall. And establishes how he can never “hope again”, and become Cardinal for the last time. It's ironic how Wolsey compares himself to Lucifer, as earlier, he was victimizing himself as he referred to the people as “killing” his “frost”. This victimization contrasts with his belief of being Lucifer since he was the ultimate devil who caused chaos. This illustrates the possibility of Wolsey’s violent character development, perhaps leading him to a mindset of acts of vengeance. 


Cardinal Wolsey reflects upon his dismissal from being the advisor of the king. In this monologue from King Lear, Shakespeare illustrates the complexity of the grieving process after being fired unexpectedly. Through Wolsey’s tones regarding his dismissal, which are further exemplified through metaphors, hyperboles, and allusions, Shakespeare argues how these intense emotions of Wolsey represent his pride, regret, and impulsive character.

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