Character Analyses of Thomas More and the Common Man in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt - Essay Example

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When Robert Bolt created the character of Thomas More in his play 'A Man for All Seasons, (1960) he was portraying a man of great moral integrity who was prepared to die to defend his beliefs and his right to follow his conscience. In his use of the Common Man as a narrator and dramatic device, Bolt created characters who contrasted with More, emphasizing the difference between a great man and the rest of humanity…
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Character Analyses of Thomas More and the Common Man in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt
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This also defines the play's title in its true meaning; that More was a man "suited to all hours, times, occasions." (miller, 2005, from Whittinton's translation from the Latin) Using the play as primary source, this essay will first examine the character of Thomas More, then show how the Common Man can be seen to represent us all, across the divides of time, societies and history.
Thomas More contended that a person's conscience, which tells him what he believes to be right, and that the individual must be true to himself; issues worth giving up everything for. By refusing to accept the premise, put by Rich, "But every man has his price!" and giving him a silver goblet, "It's a bribe Richard....Well, I'm not going to keep it and you need it." (Act 1 p.11 2), More declared that his conscience and honesty would over-ride any need for riches and status. No matter what pressures are brought to bear, he cannot compromise his beliefs.
His refusal to agree with the King on the matter of his marriage, made Alice, his wife see the danger and beg him "Thomas, stay friends with him." (Act 1 p. 143) and his simple response stated his views clearly "But there's a little area...where I must rule myself." (p.143) In discussing the King's actions with Norfolk, regarding the Pope, he tried to make Norfolk understand his antipathy. "The Apostolic Succession...But what matters to me is...that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it." (Act 2 p 161). It was then that he gave up his office as Chancellor, and the money and status this entailed. He believed that secular law would protect him, and that sacred law was not to be abused. Alice was angry, worried about how they would survive, with no income and no career for what Thomas. She thought him a "poor silly man" if he thought he would be left alone to get on with life, and still did not understand his reasons. Already they could not afford good food and Matthew and the servants had to be found new positions, they could not pay their wages.
Other signs of poverty were apparent when, during Chapuy's visit, Meg and Roper arrived with bracken to burn on the fire. More could have 4000 from the bishops, for his writing, even Meg wanted him to take it. Once more, he tried to make his family understand the dangers of his position, and ultimately theirs. He was concerned for their safety, as well as what his conscience dictated.
"If the King takes this matter any further, with me or with the Church, it will be very bad if I even appear to have been in the pay of the Church." (Act 2 p. 173)
Cromwell's arrival alerted Alice to the real danger, though she remained angry with her husband, mostly driven by fear for his welfare.
Trumped up charges, allegations of bribery and treason, the force of the "Universities, the Bishops and the Parliament of the Realm" (Act 2 p. 67), and finally the threat from Henry himself "never could be so villainous a servant nor so traitorous a subject as yourself!" (Act 2 p. 177), none of these could sway him. In prison and finally facing death, Margaret tried to persuade him ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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