You cannot see Henry and not be amazed. Each time you see him you are struck afresh by him, as if it were the first time: a massive man, bull-necked, his hair receding, face fleshing out; blue eyes, and a small mouth that is almost coy. His height is six feet three inches, and every inch bespeaks power. His carriage, his person, are magnificent; his rages are terrifying, his vows and curses, his molten tears.

— Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

What is the meaning of the 'molten tears'? Shiny tears? Thick tears? Intense tears?

  • Molten things are very hot. Molten lava, molten metal. We don't normally say the candy bar was molten, but melted. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 6 '15 at 9:39
  • Do you mind elaborating on it? Hot tears? like intensified, passionate tears? – whitecap Oct 6 '15 at 17:29
  • That gets into interpretation, which is off-topic for this site. Suffice to say it is metaphorical language. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 6 '15 at 21:41

I would say that "molten tears" helps reinforce the sense of hyperbole established in the preceding sentences. The goal is to portray Henry as being larger than life. So "molten" evokes the qualities of volcanoes: violent, effusive, burning. All this puts the nature of his tears on a level with the magnificence of his comportment or the violence of his rages.

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I think this is a very clever way to say that Henry is a man who is not easy to cry, an interpretation consistent with the rest of the content, such as the description as to his body and personality, all of which are adopted by the writer to portray henry as a tough man.

"Somebody melts into tears" is a usage slightly similar to that, but "molten" is NOT an alternative form of "melt".

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  • 1
    So, it could be a kind of poetic phrase? "An ironman's tears, that are like molten metal?" – CowperKettle Oct 6 '15 at 7:36
  • Yes quite close to what i want to say, but the ironman is not the ironman in avengers right? – Chu Wa Tim Tim Oct 6 '15 at 7:38
  • Having had no pleasure of watching Avengers, I meant simply "a man of iron", a man made of iron. – CowperKettle Oct 6 '15 at 7:40

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