A Man For All SeasonsBy Robert Bolt

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A Man For All Seasons,By Robert Bolt (St. Thomas More) Essay, Research Paper In Robert Bolt’s Play, A Man For All Seasons, we are presented with a historical character of inexorable integrity, Sir Thomas More. More is drawn unwillingly into a situation where he must choose between expediency or his principles. More’s decision is consistant through out the entirety of the play as he remains intensely loyal to his conscience and is unable to abandon his religious beliefs, even if it ultimately means his own tragic demise. The entreaties of many are to no avail as More proves to be steadfast. In the second scene of the play we see More meeting with Cardinal Wolsey. More’s character is exemplified as Wolsey ask’s More’s opinion about a certain letter that is to be sent

to the Pope regarding the validity of the King’s marriage to Catherine. More compliments Wolsey on his phrasing and avoids the content of the dispatch directly, except to say that he feels the council should be informed before it goes to Italy, this response sparks Wolsey to reply: Would you tell the council? Yes, I believe you would. You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see facts flat on, without that moral squint; with just a little common sense, you could have been a statesman. (Bolt 10) More’s non-committal response to Wolsey’s question is also characteristic of his desire to be silent for the remainder of the play and, despite Wolsey’s continuing plea that he should ignore his “own, private, conscience” (Bolt 12) for state reasons, More is

unable to approve of the King’s divorce. As More and King Henry talk during the King’s visit to Chelsea in scene six, More is once again pressured on the matter of the Henry’s divorce, now by Henry himself. More states to Henry that he sees his own opinion so cleary that he would choose “not to think of it at all” (Bolt 31). Henry is obviously disturbed by this and upset with More when he responds: “Great God, Thomas, why do you hold out against me in the desire of my heart – the very wick of my heart?” (Bolt 31). More expresses to Henry that he wishes he could, in good conscience, agree with him and reminds Henry of the promise to not pressure for his support: “When I took the Great Seal your Majesty promised not to pursue me on this matter.” (Bolt 31). This

conversation with Henry clearly illustrates More’s views on the subject and his disagreement with Henry’s argument. It is apparent More wishes to be uninvolved in the issue. As we come to the second act More has decided to give up his Lord Chancellorship, which was due solely to the submission of the bishops in Convocation. More defends his decision to Norfolk by saying that the submission “isn’t ‘Reformation’; [but] is war against the Church!…Our King…has declared war on the Pope – because the Pope will not declare that our Queen is not his wife.” (Bolt 52). He again remains constant in not conveying his own opinion on this matter. More also states his belief that the Pope is “the Vicar of God,…our only link with Christ.” (Bolt 53). More’s resignation

proves his willingness to risk everything for what he believes in. Towards the end of this first scene in act two “More appears convinced that he will not be molested, provided that they refrain from discussing the question of the King’s Supremacy, and the matter of his divorce.” (Coles 28). More believes he will have safety in his silence. As Cromwell questions More on “some ambiguities of behavior” (Bolt 67) he, in his own words, reiterates the King’s own offer from scene six, “If you could come with me, you are the man I would soonest raise – yes, with my own hand.” (Bolt 34), that if More “could bring [himself] to agree with the Universities, the Bishops and the Parliament of this realm, there is no honour which the King would be likely to deny you”