Harry is an opportunist who as a young man saw a chance to write his future sister in law romantic letters and took it, both out of his own youthful ambitious and amorous desires and to annoy his brother, when the inevitable truth came out. He finds various ways to present himself and draw attention to himself, from firing a crossbow inside the palace (and asking to be taught how to use it) to all the hunting, hawking, and fighting he does, both with swords and his fists. When the French King insults his wife’s honor, Harry demands he “take this outside,” where the pair of them engage in a knock-down wrestling match. When he is not dancing or attending to affairs of state, which he handles with a logical detachment that dismays his sisters (how can he treat them like chattel and keep marrying them off, breaking his word to let them choose their next husband in the process?), he is dancing, sleeping with his mistress, or demanding an heir to the throne. The older he gets, the more years that pass, Harry becomes more and more preoccupied with this ‘need,’ and unwilling and unable to consider his daughter a viable replacement. He also displays a callous cruel streak, having Buckingham arrested and beheaded after promising to pardon him, banishing his ‘aunt’ Maggie Pole from court, and seeking to humiliate and denigrate his wife in public for her empty womb.

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Henry is an amiable and good-natured young man who simply wants to enjoy the pleasures of his wife. He over-spends, he over-eats, he enjoys looking at beautiful women (and later, bedding them), and he would rather let Wolsey handle affairs of state so he has time to “play.” He has a naïve optimism about the world, and believes in his wife’s virtue. But as more and more time passes, Harry shows the cruel, hedonistic nature of being a 7w8 – he becomes more aggressive, assertive, angry, and wrathful. He screams that he intends to have his sister and her husband’s head on a pike, because they dared to disobey him and marry without his permission. He bickers with and blames Catherine for all their problems, and parades his illegitimate son around court to hurt her.