Cite this article as:

Kabanova I. V. Psychological aspects of power in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light. Izvestiya of Saratov University. Philology. Journalism, 2022, vol. 22, iss. 3, pp. 342-350. DOI:

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0).

Psychological aspects of power in Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and The Light

The last novel of Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy is approached through the lens of the contemporary theory of power. As a historical novelist, Mantel opens up the mentality behind political and social forms of power under Tudor monarchy, the dominance of traditional medieval system and, in Cromwell’s attempt to create bureaucratic government, the emergence of power devoid of the coating of sacredness. The paper is focused, though, on what is seen as the novel’s central plot, the dynamics of interpersonal balance of power between king Henry VIII and his Lord Privy Seal. Seemingly, Cromwell enjoys his outstanding career, unique for a commoner, as long as Henry stands behind him, and once Henry has exhausted Cromwell, he gets rid of him. The main phases of dynamics between Henry and the central character are established, and each phase of the increase in Cromwell’s power and outward prestige is accompanied by the increase in his awareness of the dangers of his position, in case he fails to satisfy his master’s desires. In fact, Henry realizes that Cromwell presents a challenge to king’s power, comes to see him as a dangerous rival and executes Cromwell as such. Cromwell’s fate is destined to repeat that of his fi rst master Cardinal Wolsey. Mantel’s artistry in implying and explicating this plot on the novel’s many levels is analyzed.


1. Pearson A. The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel, review: A little baggy, but still brilliant // The Telegraph, January 14, 2021. URL: (дата обращения: 30.01.2022).

2. Elton G. R. The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative changes in the reign of Henry VIII. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1953. 466 p.

3. Starkey D. Court and Government // Coleman C., Starkey D., eds. Revolution Reassessed: Revisions in the history of Tudor government and administration. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1985. P. 29–58.

4. MacCulloch D. Thomas Cromwell: A Life. Penguin Books, 2019. 728 p.

5. Канторович Э. Х. Два тела короля. Исследование по средневековой политической теологии. М. : Изд-во Института Гайдара, 2015. 752 с.

6. Священное тело короля : Ритуалы и мифология власти / отв. ред. Н. А. Хачатурян. М. : Наука, 2006. 484 с.

7. Мантел Х. Зеркало и свет / пер. с англ. Е. Доброхотовой-Майковой, М. Клеветенко. М. : Иностранка, Азбука-Аттикус, 2021. 928 с.

8. Мантел Х. Внесите тела. М. : АСТ, 2014. 478 с.

9. Mantel H. Bring Up the Bodies. N.Y. : Henry Holt and Co, 2012. 410 p.

Generator XML for DOAJ