A Man For All Seasons

A Man for All Seasons: Presentation of Religious Faith and Its Consequences

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

A discussion of Bolt’s presentation of religious faith and its consequences in A Man for All Seasons

Religious faith is, in the play, an important factor to both the plot and the presentation of characters and their beliefs. Moreover, Bolt’s almost comical, ironic approach adds to contrasting characters and bringing out the themes of morality and hypocrisy while highlighting that which the play revolves around. More’s being torn between his faith and his allegiance.

Firstly, toward the beginning of the play, the audience is introduced to Wolsey, a man of God, whom Bolt uses to create a first impression of the Church. Wolsey is immediately a contrast to More, seen to be frantic in language and action. It is ironic, as one would not particularly expect this of a churchman. To follow the initial shock, Wolsey is seen to reprimand morality, as he finds More’s strong moral standing, an inconvenient “quint”. Bolt uses more irony in Wolsey putting out the candles, signifying the destroying of hope. Faith, which should be a source of hope, instead offers nine and this foreshadows More’s death at the end of the play, as that which should have been trustworthy, is not.

In opposition to Wolsey, and a lack of Faith and morality in the church, stands More. This is seen in his faith in prayer, as he claims they will have his “prayers to fall back on” even if chaos were to envelop England. He is willing to risk anarchy and put the fate of England in the hands of a potential “miracle”. This speaks largely of his faith. Bolt uses the mention of stakes and Wolsey’s frantic approach to it, to make waiting for a miracle, seem highly impractical, therein also portraying how religion is irrelevant, and cannot fully be leaned on.

In support, is the lack of a religious stand on Common Man’s part. He is portrayed not necessarily as corrupt like Rich or Cromwell, but as having a deep rooted survival instinct, as seen with the boatman having a family ans the steward not staying with More, once he has given up his material luxuries. The Common Man, who is, arguably, the Man for All Seasons lacks a convicted faith in God. Bolt portrays the man whose are “all the…centuries” this way presents the irrelevance and inadequacy of religion as being, in fact, timeless.

Although more is shown to keep to his faith in God, Bolt also suggests that it is more a matter of conscience than religion. More “anchors” himself in the law, as he believes in its necessity and authority. Moreover, he says to Norfolk that it is not that he believes it but that “I believe it”, speaking of his being true to his conscience because it is his. Similarly, it could be argued that ore’s silence serves as evidence that he keeps hope in law and morality as opposed to acknowledging the inevitability that comes with God. It would seem that his faith in a “watertight case” outweighs his faith in God. This again portrays the futility of religion, further emphasized as it is the case he dies for.

Another way in which Bolt significantly portrays religious faith is using Chapuys. As he is introduced as the representative of the Church, in the plot, his manner should reflect the faith. Bolt depicts him as a parody. Ironically, Chapuys lacks most of the positive Christian attributes, is corrupt and discreet, thereby making a mockery of the Catholic Church. Bolt uses humor to portray the blatant spying, as their “legs protrude clearly”, making them deceitful, but clumsily so. In addition, Chapuys follows in Cromwell’s steps, in trying to squeeze information from the steward showing that he is no better, morally. However, unlike Cromwell, who challenges the worth of what he is hearing, Chapuys is more easily played, even appreciating a false proclamation of the cross being steward’s “master”, depicting the Faith as being not only hypocritical, but also silly and ineffectual.

Similarly, this portrayal of the Church works to intensify the plot, as it was what stood between the king and his heir, and More keeping his head. To bring it into context, Bolt uses Chapuys to remind the audience of the stakes and the consequences in that a sign form More, indicating which side he was on would be understood by “half your fellow countrymen”. If the church had More, it would influence the King and in them being nothing but pretentious and ineffectual, the consequences and the suspense leading to it is heightened.

Finally, the theme of religious faith and Bolt’s presentation of it comes from knowing the risks but also being influenced by the comic ironic qualities attributed to the church. A mess of feelings as to faith is created using Roper, the heretic. More warns him about voicing his beliefs as they could be interpreted as treason, this bringing in the element of tension, again the crux of the plot. This is contrasted with Roper being incautious, naively passionate and a comic relief. This leaves the audience acknowledging the seriousness that is at the coe of the plot, but also that it comes with a comical, light aftertaste.

In conclusion, Bolt portray faith and religiosity perhaps cynically, using irony and humor to highlight characters’ attitudes, intensify the plot and develop relevant atmosphere. Moreover, he explores themes including corruption, politics and religion versus morality subtly, while still keeping the main ideas carried through the play.

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A Man for All Seasons: Analysis of Unfair Trial in the Film

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

Thomas More: A Man For All Seasons

In A Man For All Seasons, Thomas More was found guilty of treason because he refused to support King Henry VIII’s decision to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon. The King sought this divorce because he wanted to marry his mistress, Anne Boleyne. King Henry contended he was entitled to the divorce because Catherine had been married to Arthur, Henry’s older brother. Upon Arthur’s death, Catherine was betrothed to Henry. Although King Henry had received prior church approval to marry Catherine, he pointed out to the Pope that according to the Bible, it was wrong to marry your brother’s wife.

More did not accept King Henry’s argument. As More saw it, King Henry should not be allowed the divorce because his marriage had been approved previously by the Pope.

I believe that Thomas More was treated unfairly in A Man For All Seasons for two reasons. First, Henry promised to leave More out of the divorce proceedings, and then he broke that promise. Second, More was treated unjustly during his trials.

Early in the film, King Henry paid a visit to More, his chancellor. During the visit, it became apparent that the King thought of Thomas as more than a chancellor; he viewed More as a friend. Henry respected More’s opinion, and became extremely frustrated with his many attempts to persuade More to accept the divorce. Finally, when the King realized that More could not accept the divorce, he promised to exempt More from any decisions pertaining to the divorce.

The leader of the divorce campaign was Thomas Cromwell, who was next in line for the chancellor’s position. He framed More hoping that More would be forced to resign as chancellor. Cromwell then wrote an oath which forced people to prove they accepted King Henry’s divorce. Even though the King had promised to keep More out of the proceedings, members of the King’s council tried to persuade More to take the oath. More talked to his wife and daughter, and decided to take the oath only if the wording were ambivalent enough to hide his true beliefs. Unfortunately, the wording left no question. More decided on a new approach — silence. Even though More remained silent and refused to take the oath, he was put on trial.

Soon after his refusal to take the oath, More was sent to the Tower. Eventually, he was brought to trial during which he was treated unjustly. More said that while he did not necessarily object to the King’s divorce, he did not want to take the oath. More decided to resort to silence because an old English law stated that when people are silent, they are giving their approval. However, the jury in refusal to follow this law, found More guilty of treason, and sentenced him to death.

In Man For All Seasons, although Thomas More was treated unfairly, he was the only person who stood up for what he believed. Even when everyone else ignored their morals, More did not. Justice is defined as fairness and impartiality. I believe that Thomas More was treated neither fairly nor impartially. It was biased for the jury to ignore the English law which stated that silence gives approval. The jury was prejudice towards More because only More went against the King. This discrimination caused an innocent man to die, and that is not why the justice system was created. In being willing to die for his convictions, Thomas More proved he was truly ‘a man for all seasons.’

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Honesty and Rejection of Concession Depicted in Robert Bolt’s Play, a Man for All Seasons

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

A Man for all Season is a play written by Robert Bolt and has integrity and the refusal to compromise as central themes that chart the course of the entire play. The play itself is based on the actual events of history and chronicles the vehement refusal of Sir Thomas Moore to assent to the divorce and remarriage of the King of England.

King Henry VIII was married for many years to Queen Catherine of Aragon. However, the marriage did not produce an heir. This caused the king grieve and sleepless nights as it meant that he would certainly die without an heir. In order to produce a male heir and successor, he opted to divorce his present queen and remarry. This was against the tenets of the Catholic Church and the Pope at the time refused his accent. The King broke away from the Catholic Church and by his influence; Parliament passed The Act of Supremacy which effectively made the King the head of the church in England.

Thomas Moore was Lord Chancellor at the time and was required by law to sign the bill before it would become effective as law. However, Moore, in good conscience would not sign the act as it offended all that he believed in as a Catholic. Unfortunately, Moore came under intense pressure by the King and his wife and many other persons who had influence over him. However, the Lord Chancellor resigned instead and was subsequently beheaded on the orders of the King – a year later.

Moore’s refusal to sign the Act of Supremacy and ultimately grant the King what he wanted is quite instructive and inspiring. This is so because his actions came at a time when the King was considered both the law and the state – and defying him meant certain death. The defiance of Moore to the King’s orders is quite symbolic and instructive to the fact that principles are superior to material gain and the fear of breaking human relationships by preserving them with the artificial glue of wrong and ultimately, law breaking.

Also, it is instructive to note that the decision of one’s own heart is very important in relating with the world. Here, the playwright makes it crustal clear that unless one follows his/her her, it is impossible to live right and ultimately, affect humanity in a positive way.

In conclusion, it is worthy to understand that Thomas Moore’s lack of compromise is the main source of conflict in the play – as it fuels the anger and frustration of the king; the successful resolution of it meant the climax and resolution of the play – concurrently. The message the lack of compromise and ultimate death of Moore leaves for the audience is simple: believing in one’s faith/ideology of life may actually cost one’s life…however; it is actually worse living a life of pretense and hypocrisy.

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Robert Bolt’s Play, a Man for All Seasons vs. Zinnemann’s Film Adaptation

February 11, 2021 by Essay Writer

When reflecting on Zinnemann’s adaptation of A Man for All Seasons (1966) compared to Robert Bolt’s original play, many differences are noted between the two. Although the film provides a strict interpretation of the play by using direct dialogue, it incorporates multiple variations, including the overall tone, the plot, the characterization, and the mood. The movie serves to depict Bolt’s play in a completely different approach while staying true to the main themes of his play. All in all, both the play and the movie of A Man for All Seasons provide an accurate background on the historical event concerning Thomas More’s downfall as the Lord Chancellor of England.

From the movie, it is observed that much of the dialogue from Robert Bolt’s play is preserved in its original format. This dialogue was kept purposely to give background information, references, and accurate details about the characters. More states this in both the play and the movie: “If what Master Rich has said is true, then I pray I may never see God in the face!” (Act II: Bolt 92). This use of direct dialogue is important in the significance of the scene because it helps to portray More’s integrity before his ultimate demise. Although some parts of the dialogue were not used, Zinnemann’s film edition includes the significant conversations which are accurate in obtaining the true meanings and thoughts of the main characters within the play.

The tone of the play depicts more of a calm, professional distinction when compared to the film. For example, during the scene with More and King Henry XIII in the movie, the conversations between the two have an antagonized and intense tone in contrast with the play. From the play, it is observed that the king does not respond in a harsh manner toward More’s personal opinions but instead reciprocates with respect. King Henry responds to More’s discontent toward his divorce of King Catherine in this way in the play: “Thomas, I respect your sincerity. Respect? Oh, man, it’s water in the desert” (Act I: Bolt 34). Also from the play, it is observed that the character of Cromwell is astringent toward the character of Richard Rich. Within the play, it is noted that Cromwell does this: “And seizing Rich by the wrist he holds his hand in the candle flame” (Act I: Bolt 45). This scene is not included in the movie, so Cromwell’s corrupt character is not foreseen like in the play. On the other hand, both adaptations offer a discrepancy in tone in order to appeal to a variety of diverse audiences.

From both the play and the movie, one could observe a very similar plot line. Although this is common in adaptations of plays, Zinneman’s A Man for All Seasons changes some of the plot while keeping the main parts of it the same. This is purposeful and essential toward the understanding of the play and the events that occur. Because the movie eliminates crucial background knowledge, then those who have not read the play will not understand the intended plot. For example, the main difference found in the movie version is that there is an absence of the “Common Man” that is included in the play. This character gives background information that allows readers to better understand what is going on in the play. Unlike the play, the movie emphasizes More’s entitlement of Lord Chancellor with a large display. A vital difference in the plot of the film is the introduction of Cromwell as a spy at the beginning instead of at the end like in the play. This diminishes Cromwell’s suspiciousness that is observed in many key elements of the play. Also, a scene in the movie that shows Cromwell throwing Rich into the mud is portrayed but is not included in the play. Despite these differences in the plot, the movie stays true to the main points of the play. In both the movie and the play, More does not attend the wedding of King Henry XIII and Anne Boleyn. Additionally, the discreet death of Cardinal Wolsey provides a turning point of the plot in both adaptations of A Man for All Seasons. In conclusion, the film provides an accurate description of the overall plot of Robert Bolt’s well-known play by the summation of textual evidence and actual occurrences.

The greatest similarity between the film and the play is the characterization of the key individuals. The characters in the movie display the same physical features and descriptions of those in the play. Evidence of this is found by reading the character descriptions on the first and second page of Bolt’s play. For example, Cardinal Wolsey is “old; a big decayed body in scarlet” (Bolt 1). Likewise, Cardinal Wolsey is stout and dressed in scarlet in the movie. The play uses both direct and indirect characterization to allow readers to better understand the thoughts, qualities, and overall personalities of the individuals in the play. The film strictly uses indirect characterization by showing the viewer events that would lead to forming a conclusion about the attributes of the individuals. Furthermore, the main character, Thomas More, references the use of his conscience as his spiritual guide in all things. This leads readers and viewers of both the play and the film to better discover More’s character. For instance, on page 71 in the play, More states that “God is love right through” (Act II: Bolt 71). This quote gives evidence that More is a very spiritual man with regard to his decisions made in accordance to his conscience given from the Holy Spirit as a Christian man. Also, the characterization of Richard Rich is discovered throughout the progression of the play. From his actions, it is seen that Rich will do anything in order to profit financially, even at the expense of his own conscience. All things considered, the characterization of the characters is seen similarly in both the play and the movie but is portrayed in different ways due to the discrepant viewing availabilities.

The mood in both the play and the movie is revealed in different ways. In the film, an evident shift of the mood includes the visual representation of the changing of the seasons near the end of the film. This gives the visual image of time passing by while More is imprisoned. Although aging occurs in the play, it is difficult to picture this, and the film was effective in emphasizing this prevalent importance. The use of symbolism in this scene created an ominous mood in the movie because it demonstrated that as time was passing, Thomas More was getting older and progressing toward his death. The lack of music and lighting in the movie when compared to the play excludes an essential element of textual evidence that illustrates the mood. In contrast, the inclusion of lighting and music in the play formed the development and the importance of particular scenes that were in need of further emphasis. However, both the film adaptation and the play give an element of change to the mood in A Man for All Seasons.

Even though both the movie adaptation and the play of A Man for All Seasons are very different in comparison, they each provide a unique interpretive aspect for the topic. The use of dialogue for emphasis is significant in understanding and making connections with the characters of the play. The film uses changes in the tone, the plot, the characterization, and the mood in order to appeal to audiences who have not viewed the play by providing alterations that allow for better comprehension of the theme and message of the play. As a direct result of this, the movie of A Man for All Seasons gives a precise, visually appealing, and a new perspective to Robert Bolt’s 1960 play, A Man for All Seasons.

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The Analysis Of The Play “A Man For All Seasons” By Robert Bolt

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

A Man for All Seasons, written by Robert Bolt, revolves around a character named Sir Thomas More. In a world full of people who define themselves by the route society lays out for them, More stands out because of his strong morals and catholic beliefs. This introduces many problems to More as he faces choices which force him to either abandon his morals or endanger both himself and those for whom he cares. Many authors use motifs, recurring ideas throughout a literary work, as a way to emphasize specific points.

Throughout the play, Bolt repeatedly brings up a motif of water as a way to emphasize many different concepts in relation to the development of Sir Thomas More. Bolt’s use of water helps indicate More’s Identity to the audience. This is also used as a way to make More’s fears known to the audience as the situation with the king’s divorce continues. Bolt uses water to show the increase of danger, which emphasizes his silence to his loved ones as a way to assure his family’s safety.

Many different characters are present in this play. Most are distinguishable from More in multiple different ways, but what really makes More distinct is his identity. Most if not all characters follow society and do not have their own morals or beliefs, but More has a strong relationship with the church and will not compromise his morals or beliefs for anything. As the motif of water develops throughout the play, More’s identity becomes more recognisable as he does not even think twice about compromising his morals to insure both the safety of himself and his loved ones. The author uses water in many different ways to portray More’s identity and the lack of identity in many other foil characters.

As More explains his concept of identity to his daughter, Margaret, More uses water as way of representing his identity, “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water and if he opens his fingers then – he needn’t hope to find himself again.” The water enclosed in his hands represents his identity, and he is saying that if he “opens his fingers” up and lets the water out, then he will no longer be himself. This really shows the contrast between More and all the other characters in the novel as they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even if it means letting their identity slip away by compromising their morals. As Kings Henry’s situation with the divorce continues, More finds himself opposing decisions made by the king and in doing so, he is forced him to make a decision which could end up saving his life, but in return losing his identity.

The statement, “Only an unhappy few were found to set themselves against the current of their times, and in so doing to court disaster”, said by the Common man demonstrates More’s situation as he finds himself being forced to oppose the decisions made by the king in order to keep his identity, which in return costs him his life. Bolt’s use of water does not solely emphasize More’s identity, but it also introduces More’s fears to the audience in relation to the situations which are present in the play. More’s fear of drowning becomes known to the audience after the Steward informs Rich that he “could have told him any number of things about Sir Thomas – that he has rheumatism, prefers red wine to white, is easily sea-sick, fond of kippers, afraid of drowning.”.

There are multiple meanings to this as it shows More’s literal fear of drowning, but on a deeper note, it indicates More’s fear of instability as water takes the shape of its container while land is firm and solid like his views on the law. This is the main reason as to why More has chosen his profession of a lawyer since the law can not be changed based on the parameters you want. Nearing the end of the play, when More’s life is in jeopardy, water comes up again as his cell is “too near the river”. All of More’s fears are brought to reality at this instance as he is drowning in the corruption of the government and court system. The water motif plays an important role in developing More’s fears since Bolt uses the contrast between water and land so the audience understands the instability of the court system with the overwhelming corruption at that time. He dies partly because of the corruption and bribery which took place in a plot to get More to side with the king, but More’s belief in his morals were too high.

More’s loyalty to his friends and family plays a huge role in More’s character as it shows the audience the lengths which More will go to to keep them safe. The motif of water and More’s silence go together, as the water motif develops the danger, the more More has to separate himself from his family and friends by being silent about the king’s divorce. After More gets back from a meeting with Wolsey about the divorce, Alice, More’s wife, asks about the meeting, but More, knowing the danger the situation with the divorce presents, continuously redirects Alice’s questions in an attempt to shift their conversation away from the meeting with Wolsey: ‘“What did Wolsey want?” Young Roper asked for Margaret.” Here Alice asks about the meeting, but More redirects the question immediately by informing Alice about Roper asking More for permission to mary Margaret. More’s obligation to keep his family safe causes him to distance the situation from them as much as he possibly can. Later in the play, as King Henry is at More’s house discussing the divorce, he indicates to More that he has to “catch the tide” because “[it] will be changing” as a excuse to leave.

Bolt’s reference to the change in the water represents the change in sides the political standings will have on More, which indicates the increase in threat towards him. This upcoming danger causes More to hide details regarding his conversation with the king from his wife and daughter for their own safety. More also forcibly ends his friendship with Norfolk in order to distance him from the possible danger. While speaking to Norfolk, More explains to him that “a water spaniel is to water, so is a man to his own self. I will not give in because I oppose it – I do – not my pride.”. More states this as a reason as to why he can not sign the Act of Succession. The author’s use of water spaniels shows the audience how More’s identity is obstructing his ability of having relationships with those he cares about because he can’t defy his morals and still be the same person. This forces him to distance himself from his friends even if it means hurting them, since it is for their own safety.

The motif of water plays a major role in developing More’s character throughout the play, supporting the concept of identity and More’s overwhelming passion to stick to his beliefs and morals no matter what the outcome may be. Not only does Bolt use water to support More’s identity, but he also uses it to show the audience a bit about More’s fears and what the outcome of his actions to keep his identity will be from losing friends to keeping information from loved ones, to eventually costing him his own life. Bolt’s use of water effectively develops More’s character, and without it would cause More’s character to lack certain aspects which make him himself.

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An Evaluation of the Film, Man for All Seasons, With Fred Zinnemann as the Director

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

A Man for All Seasons (1966), directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Paul Scofield and Robert Shaw, recounts the events of the life of Sir Thomas More, an important statesman and Renaissance humanist in England. He becomes caught between his beliefs and his King as the Church of England separates from the Papacy due to King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce his wife. Set in the early 16th Century England, the film focuses on the events of Henry VIII’s reformation and Thomas More’s opposition to it. However, its broader historical context is during the late Renaissance and early Protestantism. England had long been an ardent supporter of Catholicism, but all changed when Henry VIII made himself the head of Anglican Church. This proved to be one of the most important changes in England’s history, as it dictated the attitude of the English people and their actions for centuries to come. One example of this is England’s motive to colonize the new world in the 17th Century, as to compete with the Catholic nations also expanding. This time period was the decisive hour of English history.

The film is extremely informative to those who are not knowledgeable in the time period. It teaches about the reasons why the English Church separated, and how it went about it. It does not focus on the world’s reaction to the separation, but it does show England’s own reaction. It is extremely accurate in the details of the acts, for example, the Act of Supremacy in 1534 and the First Succession Act. Personally, I found it interesting to learn about the person that was Thomas More, and his beliefs and philosophies. To me, he was more known as the author of Utopia; I was ignorant of his involvement in the separation of England from the Catholic Church. I also found it interesting to learn about his trial, and the beginnings of modern court law.

One scene which struck me was the one in which More was being interrogated by the three officers of the King. He was being questioned about his beliefs but refused to give in. His manner and his logic was intelligent and almost mocking of those trying to trick him into making a “confession” or a declaration of opposition. As a lawyer, More knew the law, and knew what actions would name him treasonous. When he said that Cromwell should threaten with Justice, and Cromwell said he was being threatened with Justice, More replied, “then I do not feel threatened.”

Based on my knowledge of the time, the film was historically accurate. I doubt every event occurred exactly as it did in the film, if it occurred at all (for example, the King’s visit to More’s home) but it is miniscule and makes no matter. It would be quite difficult to achieve perfect accuracy, especially when those in the 16th Century spoke a different manner of English. As for the broader context, I believe it to be extremely accurate. Dress, relationships, method of transportation, location, all were accurate.

The purpose of the film was to bring to light the story of Thomas More, the Renaissance humanitarian and Catholic philosopher. The events of the separation of the Churches are well documented and known. The events themselves are quite boring, and it would not do to make a film about them; however using them as a setting and context makes for interesting insight into the thinking of the people during the time, as the film focuses on More. It is also to bring More into the limelight of the Renaissance humanists, as he is frequently forgotten in the shadow of those like Petrarch and Da Vinci. It is also to provide and entertaining film, as it does not serve to provide any sort of memorable lesson.

As an audience, we are expected to be entertained by the insightful look into the life of More, and to learn about the events of the separation of the English Church from the Papacy. The injustice that happened to More was wrong, yes, but it was not so injustice as to be inhumane. It was simply a dispute between belief and refusal to obey that resulted in the authority removing the opposition, which, is quite common in history. So, the audience is not supposed to pity More, rather, to remember him and to learn from his beliefs. His idea of Utopia, or the perfect society, was the goal of the Renaissance, and if human civilization truly wants to become advance themselves past the animal state, then we best listen to those like More.

The film was extremely successful in it’s production, winning six Oscars (including Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Film) and being nominated for another two. However, its success with the audience is not so widespread. Those who have seen it enjoyed it and understood its message, but it is not so popular as it hoped to be. It is not quite the 60’s epic like Ben Hur, or Spartacus. It was a good production, but not so entertaining. It is interesting, to think that the most entertaining films and events are glorious and violent, yet humanity’s goal is supposed to be above such brutal and uncivilized practices.

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The role of virtue and corruption in Aman For all Season

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

A Man for All Seasons, written by Robert Bolt, is known for the illustration of opposing ideologies and the subjective views of morality. In ‘A Man for All Seasons’ integrity and corruption are overarching themes which are involved in the development of the play’s characters. The conflict between theses two ideas are illustrated as Bolt presents integrity in the form of Thomas More, a lawyer who seeks to preserve his ‘soul’ while maintaining his invariant opinion of the state concerning the affairs of the royal marriage. While More represents integrity, the society in the form of the other characters in the play are More’s foil. The characters being portrayed as the foil of More represent the corruption of the society, being the ones who are opportunistic and expedient in their actions, further providing the conflict with More’s integrity in the process.

During the beginning of the play the conflict between integrity and corruption is introduced by More’s interaction with Wolsey about the politics of the Marriage of King Henry VIII. The conflict is presented as Wolsey discusses with More how they “might influence His Holiness’s answer”. Using the euphemism “influence” a connotation of discrete corruption is created emphasizing the idea that even within high authorities, Wolsey being The Lord Chancellor of England, corruption is present. This idea of corruption being exchanged to More, More rebuttals him by stating that “when a statesmen forsake their own private conscience…they lead their country…into chaos”, emphasizing the conflict between ideology, creating a mood of opposition between them, developing their characters. Using this interaction of ideological differences the mood, being opposition between integrity and corruption, is enhanced.

The idea of integrity and corruption is further developed in the scene where Richard Rich is compelled to follow in the footsteps of More and seeks employment from him. Asking for employment outside More’s Chelsea home More denies his request once again and tells him to “become a teacher,” so that he won’t be tempted taking bribes. This interaction is key in that it illustrates how More, as he has been commonly encountered offerings of bribes of great value from his clients, realizes that Richard Rich has the potential to be tempted in these offerings. This is key as it shows with great effect how corruption is widespread in More’s society. Emphasizing the idea of corruption with bribes More gives Rich a silver cup discussing how such an event occurs often, after which More asks “are you going to sell it?” testing this point further closing the interaction between them as Rich says “yes”. This discussion of overcoming corruption is foiled by Rich’s later statement in the play where he admits that “every man has his price,” showing how corruption is rampant in their society. Using this conflict Bolt continues to explore the ideas of integrity and corruption, especially by what means people present themselves with integrity but truly are governed by expediency; corruption.

Using ideological invariance as a technique in the play Bolt achieves the development of both integrity and corruption. This invariance is taken as the primary cause of the conflict between Thomas More and King Henry VIII when they both speak at More’s residence in Chelsea about the King’s divorce and remarriage. This clash is demonstrated as More maintains his integrity and advances carefully when he opposes the king, this act being demonstrated clearly as he repeats “your grace” with his opinions, showing in the process his submission to the higher authority, King Henry VIII. Creating a rift between integrity and the King, the King shows his expediency, his self-preservation as he adamantly states that he will have “no opposition” trying to sway More into helping him in his cause, being one of persuading the Pope to allow the divorce, and the marriage with Anne Boleyn. Using this idea of undeniable control by the King, Bolt further emphasizes how corruption in the form of machiavellianism was present in the rule of the society’s authority in that era.

Towards the closing of ‘A Man for All Seasons’, being the death of the main character, More expresses the divide between integrity and corruption when speaking to his family. Bolt uses More to achieve this effect in that More states with acknowledgment how the prison cell is “like any other place”, in that it contains people whose influence is suppressed by authority. This idea is further emphasized by the river by which the cell is adjacent to as it represents “one’s self” as More says, emphasizing the idea of how the water is compelled to travel in a certain direction, as a collective representing the people of the society and the water banks as their authority being a metaphor of King Henry VIII, controlling the people’s path in life. Robert Bolt finalizing the play using this water metaphor creates a great atmosphere of the idea social expectation, elaborating on how such expectations begin with the head of state.

It can be noted that Robert Bolt explores many ideas and themes in “A Man for All Seasons” and integrity and corruption is no exception. Exploring integrity and corruption, which are foils to each other prove to be great in developing characters and atmosphere in ‘A Man for All Seasons’. It can also be acknowledged that in this exploration of these two themes that although More is presented as the one with the most integrity, keeping his opinions until the end, being ‘man for all seasons’, he himself displays great expediency in that he is primarily concerned in his self-preservation and his self-salvation of his ‘soul’ against his own family, who “sits in the dark” as they have “no candles”.

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A commentary on the effectiveness of the opening scene of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons

May 24, 2019 by Essay Writer

The audience begins to understand the underlying or dominant ideas that make A Man for All Seasons, by their introduction in the very first scene of the play. The use of dialogue and action plays a notable role in the presentation of the characters, giving the audience an idea of their importance and purpose later. Furthermore, the significance of the goblet and the exploration of deception and corruption build tension and set the tone for what is to follow.

The entrance of Common Man in a “single spot of light” begins the play with a somber tone. A dark stage suggests secrecy and deception, where the audience is not started off on the play straightforward. This is important as it not only helps develop the atmosphere, but gives the audience and understanding of what to expect as the play progresses. A suspicious spot of light causes the audience to look closely at the scene, pay attention to detail on stage and expect trickery. The same tension is continued in the Common Man’s monologue, beginning with “perverse”- a strongly negative word conveying the nature of ideas that are brought up through the rest of the play.

Bolt uses the Common Man’s prologue to introduce the characters while already influencing the audience’s opinion of them. The play is put into context by reference to “Kings and Cardinals” setting a political scene. This only causes more tension and gives rise to the understanding of what is at stake, as these are characters that influence an entire nation. The audience is constantly reminded of the serious implications of this by the use of music in the play. This is seen in the trumpets blowing during a conversation between Wolsey and More, reminding both the characters an the audience of the King’s influence.

The negative atmosphere is carried through, consolidating what the audience already had a feeling about. The air of deception and pretentiousness is portrayed vividly by the use of description of the characters, having “embroidered mouths”, fancy, but all a facade. It creates a lack of trust, which was introduced them having “speaking costumes”, meaning donning a mask to suit the moment, without being genuine. It is also ironic coming from the mouth of the Common Man because, through the play he is seen to be changing costumes as the situation befits. This indicates that although ingenuity is to be despised it is human nature and necessary for survival. It is a theme that rings crucial in the play as we see More does not adapt to his situations, whereas everyone else can, for survival.

“Speaking costumes” has yet another implication, and that is presenting the question of who the real man for all seasons is. One interpretation is that a man for all seasons is someone who can adapt in order to survive all the seasons. This is supported by the fact that Bolt uses “a” man as opposed to “the man”. A man for all seasons doesn’t have, or simply put value on individuality, rather he can blend in, he is any man, a man in the crowd. As Common Man says “all the centuries” are the centuries of a common man. The morality of it is reinforced as he says this immediately after taking a drink of More’s wine, stealing, and being deceptive after.

On the other hand, the Common Man’s references to these themes are somewhat light. In his using “stuff” in the context of liturgical things, Bolt presents a crucial matter rather lightly. This brings in the satirical element of the play. The mockery of society in the play is a rather important aspect to it, being an undercurrent portrayed more specifically at events like the King visiting More. The man on whom the fate of England rests, the King, acts like a child. It is also seen in Roper’s ignorance of the dangerous potential consequences of being a heretic and treating it much like a simple matter of changing costume.

The Common Man also serves as a foil to bring out the character of More as being benevolent. More’s response to being lied to and deceived is “mild”. In his asking whether the wine was good, the audience understands that he is observant, a characteristic seen in More, on more than one occasion but also that he does not let his superiority make him arrogant, another area More is differentiated from the other characters in the play.

This depiction of More as being an outsider is also seen in his interaction with Rich, who is antagonistic. At the mention of suffering buying man, More gets “interested”, in hope of having a profound debate, whereas Rich is being superficial. The disappointment seen in More is found through the play, and he is often misunderstood, with regard to his actions not only by Chapuys, but his wife, and his best friend, Norfolk too.

The clash in character between Rich and More is significant to the understanding of both and the themes tied to them. The former is a representation of corruption, as his progress through the play marks the developments in corruption, seen in him wearing a nice gown later and , finally, a chain of office, paid for with his soul. This is established in the opening line “every man has his price”, suggesting a belief in bribery and a lack of virtue. This is relevant later in the play, when Cromwell urged him deeper into the path of corruption and Rich exclaims, “I’ve lost my innocence”, taking the audience back to this moment, where it is clear that he never was really innocent.

Finally, the extract concludes significantly with more building of tension, that serves to create an atmosphere for the introduction of Cromwell. In More taking Rich and walking with him, a change of tone is brought about. More transitions from the gently impatient character to a little more serious, with a hint of concern for Rich. The situation is made more uncomfortable in Rich laughing a “fraction” too long, indicating awkwardness, a lack of confidence, and unease.In conclusion, Bolt jumps right into the portrayal of characters, their relationships and significance at the start of the play, serving as an indication of its fast paced nature. The major themes of the play are introduced, as in the setting, by the use of stage directions and underlying emotions. Therefore the audience understands tone, the context, characters and their intentions, in anticipation of whatever action centers the play.

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Religious Faith and Its Consequences in A Man for All Seasons

May 8, 2019 by Essay Writer

In A Man for All Seasons, religious faith is an important factor to both the plot and the presentation of characters and their beliefs. Moreover, playwright Robert Bolt’s almost comical, ironic approach adds to contrasting characters and bringing out the themes of morality and hypocrisy while highlighting that which the play revolves around: namely, More’s being torn between his faith and his allegiance.

Toward the beginning of the play, the audience is introduced to Wolsey, a man of God, whom Bolt uses to create a first impression of the Church. Wolsey is immediately a contrast to More, seen to be frantic in language and action. It is ironic, as one would not particularly expect this of a churchman. To follow the initial shock, Wolsey is seen to reprimand morality, as he finds More’s strong moral standing, an inconvenient “quint”. Bolt uses more irony in Wolsey putting out the candles, signifying the destroying of hope. Faith, which should be a source of hope, instead offers nine and this foreshadows More’s death at the end of the play, as that which should have been trustworthy, is not.

In opposition to Wolsey, and a lack of Faith and morality in the church, stands More. This is seen in his faith in prayer, as he claims they will have his “prayers to fall back on” even if chaos were to envelop England. He is willing to risk anarchy and put the fate of England in the hands of a potential “miracle”. This speaks largely of his faith. Bolt uses the mention of stakes and Wolsey’s frantic approach to it, to make waiting for a miracle, seem highly impractical, therein also portraying how religion is irrelevant, and cannot fully be leaned on.

In support, is the lack of a religious stand on Common Man’s part. He is portrayed not necessarily as corrupt like Rich or Cromwell, but as having a deep rooted survival instinct, as seen with the boatman having a family ans the steward not staying with More, once he has given up his material luxuries. The Common Man, who is, arguably, the Man for All Seasons lacks a convicted faith in God. Bolt portrays the man whose are “all the…centuries” this way presents the irrelevance and inadequacy of religion as being, in fact, timeless.

Although more is shown to keep to his faith in God, Bolt also suggests that it is more a matter of conscience than religion. More “anchors” himself in the law, as he believes in its necessity and authority. Moreover, he says to Norfolk that it is not that he believes it but that “I believe it”, speaking of his being true to his conscience because it is his. Similarly, it could be argued that ore’s silence serves as evidence that he keeps hope in law and morality as opposed to acknowledging the inevitability that comes with God. It would seem that his faith in a “watertight case” outweighs his faith in God. This again portrays the futility of religion, further emphasized as it is the case he dies for.

Another way in which Bolt significantly portrays religious faith is using Chapuys. As he is introduced as the representative of the Church, in the plot, his manner should reflect the faith. Bolt depicts him as a parody. Ironically, Chapuys lacks most of the positive Christian attributes, is corrupt and discreet, thereby making a mockery of the Catholic Church. Bolt uses humor to portray the blatant spying, as their “legs protrude clearly”, making them deceitful, but clumsily so. In addition, Chapuys follows in Cromwell’s steps, in trying to squeeze information from the steward showing that he is no better, morally. However, unlike Cromwell, who challenges the worth of what he is hearing, Chapuys is more easily played, even appreciating a false proclamation of the cross being steward’s “master”, depicting the Faith as being not only hypocritical, but also silly and ineffectual.

Similarly, this portrayal of the Church works to intensify the plot, as it was what stood between the king and his heir, and More keeping his head. To bring it into context, Bolt uses Chapuys to remind the audience of the stakes and the consequences in that a sign form More, indicating which side he was on would be understood by “half your fellow countrymen”. If the church had More, it would influence the King and in them being nothing but pretentious and ineffectual, the consequences and the suspense leading to it is heightened.

Finally, the theme of religious faith and Bolt’s presentation of it comes from knowing the risks but also being influenced by the comic ironic qualities attributed to the church. A mess of feelings as to faith is created using Roper, the heretic. More warns him about voicing his beliefs as they could be interpreted as treason, this bringing in the element of tension, again the crux of the plot. This is contrasted with Roper being incautious, naively passionate and a comic relief. This leaves the audience acknowledging the seriousness that is at the coe of the plot, but also that it comes with a comical, light aftertaste.

Bolt ultimately portrays faith and religiosity somewhat cynically, using irony and humor to highlight characters’ attitudes, intensify the plot and develop relevant atmosphere. Throughout A Man for All Seasons, he explores momentous themes including corruption, politics, and religion versus morality; he does so subtly, while still keeping a coherent set of main ideas carried through the play.

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More’s Ideal Character in A Man for All Seasons

April 23, 2019 by Essay Writer

In Robert Bolt’s A Man for all Seasons, Thomas More is a man whose sense of self is set in stone. He dies not because he wants to be martyred or made a hero, but because he finds himself unable to compromise his integrity. Throughout the play, the characters that interact with More act as foils. When their priorities are contrasted with his, they more clearly define him as an individual. In this way, the reader achieves a deeper understanding of More by gaining insight into what he is not, rather than what he is. More, the “uncommon man,” is a singularly pristine figure against a soiled and compromising backdrop.

From More’s first conversation, “the price of a man” is a question that the characters struggle to articulate and understand. The ambitious and impressionable Richard Rich, whose malleable moral compass has been tampered with by reading Machiavelli, insists that “Every man has his price!” (4). More, whose values are much more deeply rooted, disagrees:

MORE: No no no.

RICH: Or pleasure. Titles, women, bricks-and-mortar, there’s always something.

MORE: Childish

RICH: Well, in suffering, certainly.

MORE: Buy a man with suffering?

RICH: Impose suffering, and offer him – escape.

MORE: Oh. For a moment I thought you were being profound. (4-5)

More is the type of man who cannot be bought, neither by treasure nor threat of suffering. This initial clash of principles sets a precedent for the rest of More’s interactions with other characters in the play. His inflexible, outspoken sense of justice makes it impossible for him to submit to inequity. More is a man with a great capacity for understanding, but, as the Steward predicts, “Some day someone’s going to ask him for something that he wants to keep; and he’ll be out of practice” (17).

When More meets with Cardinal Wolsey, who has a strikingly utilitarian outlook for a clergy member, Wolsey tells him, “You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see the facts flat on, without that horrible moral squint; with just a little common sense, you could have been a statesman” (19). Unlike many men, Thomas More’s morality is not simply a perspective which he can choose to wear or cast off like a pair of glasses. Rather, his ideals are a part of him, immutable and inseparable from his identity and sense of self.

King Henry pays More a visit to his house for dinner – a pretense to discuss the issue of marriage with him. He wants More to approve his divorce from Catherine and remarriage to Anne Boleyn, so as to appease the public and relieve his own personal conscience:

MORE: Then why does Your Grace need my poor support?

HENRY: Because you’re honest. What’s more to the purpose, you’re known to

be honest . . . There are those like Norfolk who follow me because I wear the crown, and there are those like Master Cromwell who follow me because they are jackals with sharp teeth and I am their lion, and there is a mass that follows me because it follows anything that moves – and then there is you. (55)

More follows not a crown, nor a lion, nor anything else simply because it has pomp and “power,” but follows what rings true to his own heart. Henry and the people of England know this, and so Henry feels that Thomas’ approval will vindicate his struggle for divorce. More wants to follow the king’s commands, but his conscience simply won’t allow him to.

When King Henry requests that More give his blessing on his divorce, he forces More to choose one side of his opposing internal allegiances. More is the king’s loyal subject, but also a man of deep, unshakable faith. Though his consideration for the well-being of his family and his friendship with the king has kept him neutral on the subject of his marriage, Henry’s request pressures Thomas to choose between loyalty to his king or his values (and thereby his faith in God). This core, this undividable moral kernel that is More, cannot be ruled by a king, or any earthly entity; neither can it contradict itself, as the king asks him to. He tries to explain this to Alice:

ALICE: You’re too nice altogether, Thomas!

MORE: Woman, mind your house.

ALICE: I am minding my house!

MORE: Well, Alice. What would you want me to do?

ALICE: Be ruled! If you won’t rule him, be ruled!

MORE: I neither could nor would rule my King. But there’s a little . . . little, area . . . where I must rule myself. It’s very little—less to him than a tennis court. (59)

More stands firm and is prepared for whatever may come, but he neither expects nor wants to make any sort of public statement with his refusal to accept the marriage. He avoids being confrontational about his beliefs so as to cause the least amount of trouble for himself and his family. He assures Alice, “Set your mind at rest—this is not the stuff of which martyrs are made” (60).

Though he is a compassionate, forgiving, and generous man, Thomas More’s principles simply will not be budged. Men like Norfolk, Cromwell, Rich, and Roper have mercurial morals, allowing themselves to rise or fall with every fluxuation in King Henry’s moral temperature. More, however, refuses to buckle to the will of the king, prioritizing purity of conscience over preservation of physical comfort.

Unlike the fickle theology of William Roper, More’s foundation is set on rocks, and endures through whatever the world might hurl at him:

MORE: . . . Will, I’d trust you with my life. But not your principles. You see, we speak of being anchored to our principles. But if the weather turns nasty you up with an anchor and let it down where there’s less wind, and the fishing’s better. And “Look,” we say, “look, I’m anchored to my principles!” (69) More, as malleable in his morals as a diamond, cannot be changed. He is truly a man for all seasons. Richard Rich, yet another foil to More, is a man who has a price and knows it. In his conversation with Cromwell, he demonstrates his willingness to sacrifice his integrity:

CROMWELL: D’you believe that—that you would never repeat or report anything et cetera?

RICH: Yes!

CROMWELL: No, but seriously.

RICH: Why, yes!

CROMWELL: Rich; seriously.

RICH: It would depend what I was offered. (72)

Rich is the type of person whose conscience means little to him. There is a fundamental disconnect between his and More’s priorities. Integrity means a different thing to each of them. Whereas More is a man whose spirit is able to transcend his worldly attachments, Rich fails to hold his soul as sacred, and is willing to sacrifice it for a sum:

CROMWELL: You look depressed.

RICH: I’m lamenting. I’ve lost my innocence.

CROMWELL: You lost it some time ago. If you’ve only just noticed, it can’t have been very important to you.

RICH: That’s true! Why that’s true, it can’t!

CROMWELL: We experience a sense of release, do we, Master Rich? An unfamiliar freshness in the head, as of open air? (74)

More’s identity, and thereby his entire existence, revolves around his principles. His beliefs are important to him because without them, More cease to be More. It’s not the logic of them that matters to him, but rather that they are part and parcel of what he identifies as himself. To change or compromise his values would be to try to re-sculpt a thing already set in stone. He tries to articulate this to Norfolk:

NORFOLK: Does this make sense? You’ll forfeit all you’ve got—which includes the respect of your country—for a theory?

MORE: The Apostolic Succession of the Pope is . . . Why, it’s a theory, yes; you can’t see it; you can’ touch it; it’s a theory. But what matters to me is not whether it’s true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather, not that I believe it, but that I believe it . . . I trust I make myself obscure? (91)

King Henry’s request calls More to do what he cannot: compromise his allegiance and mute his conscience. Though a loyal subject of the king, More’s first and foremost loyalty is to his G-d. He cannot and will not give this up, because to do so would be to give up his very essence. When he refuses to sign a document acknowledging his consent of the King’s divorce, he is accused of treason and thrown in jail. The Common Man, dressed as the Jailer, allows More to be locked up, even though he knows him to be an innocent man. He uses an old expression to rationalize his failure to act:

COMMON MAN: “I’d let him out if I could but I can’t, not without taking up residence in there myself. And he’s in there already, so what’d be the point? You know the old adage? ‘Better a live rat than a dead lion,’ and that’s about it” (127). The Common Man is “plain and simple.” He would rather save his own neck than take a stand for what he knows to be right. More hides in “the forest of the law,” refusing to make a definitive statement about his opinion on the king’s marriage. By remaining silent, he deadlocks the prosecution against him. Rich, whose price turns out to be Wales, is eventually called to give a false testimony against More to expedite the process. With his false account of More’s actions, More is found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. In his last informal conversation with Norfolk, Norfolk berates More for his refusal to give into King Henry’s commands. More attempts, one last time, to make Norfolk understand what it is that compels him to be so adamant about his beliefs:

NORFOLK: Oh, that’s immutable, is it? The one fixed point in a world of changing friendships is that Thomas More will not give in!

MORE: To me it has to be, for that’s myself. Affection goes as deep in me as you think, but only G-d is love right through, Howard; and that’s my self.

NORFOLK: And who are you? Goddammit, man, it’s disproportionate! We’re supposed to be the arrogant ones, the proud, splenetic ones – and we’ve all given in! Why must you stand out? You’ll break my heart. (122)

Norfolk is deeply troubled by what he sees as a painful and illogical sacrifice on More’s part. Unable to see beyond the immediate, physical impact of things, he is frustrated with Thomas, because he cannot find a direct or tangible rationale for his friend’s actions. Though undeniably a good man, Norfolk has a spiritual shallowness to him, and fails to comprehend the ultimate significance of actions. His decision to succumb to the king’s will isn’t, for him, morally compromising. He simply doesn’t see an evident reason to stick his neck out, so he chooses to keep quiet. In this way, he is another foil to More, who goes on to tell Norfolk:

MORE: And what would you do with a water spaniel that was afraid of water? You’d hang it! Well, as a spaniel is to water, so is a man to his own self. I will not give in because I oppose it – I do – not my pride, not my spleen, nor any other of my appetites but I do, I! (123)

More’s very essence is at stake in his decision. Without his faith, he is but a shell of himself, of no more consequence than a water spaniel who can’t swim.

When he talks with his daughter Margaret for the last time, More tries to make her understand what it is that drives him. She asks him, “Haven’t you done as much as G-d can reasonably want?” (141) In a tone that suggests that he has come to terms with the situation, he replies, “Well . . . Finally . . . It isn’t a matter of reason; finally it’s a matter of love.” (141)

More’s unshakable devotion to his ideals stems from a deeply rooted connection with G-d. Even after he has done all for his faith that could be expected of him, More insists on remaining true to his morals. He makes the decision to go above and beyond his obligations not to save face or because he is a stubborn old man, but because, as any man in love, he is willing to do irrational things for his “Agape.”

When Richard Rich gives a false testimony, claiming that More spoke treasonously of the king, the court is able to sentence More to death. He is taken to the cutting block and decapitated.

In the wake of the execution, the Common Man removes his mask and comes to the center of the stage: “I’m breathing . . . Are you breathing too? . . . it’s nice, isn’t it? It isn’t difficult to keep alive friends – just don’t make trouble – or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that’s expected” (162-3).

Like Rich, Norfolk, Wolsey, and Cromwell, the Common Man is a foil to Thomas More. He allows himself to be led around on a leash, acting as he is ordered to, without consideration to his own sense of right and wrong. More is clearly cast of a different mettle: His decision to adhere to his ideals is rooted in a unique, genuine joy and faith in G-d, and so transcends “logical” justifications for acting differently.

In this day and age, the idealist is often considered impractical, irrational, and even ludicrous in his fidelity to hope. More’s is the story of a man whose ideals were greater than his flesh. He clung to them beyond “reason,” beyond obligation, and beyond necessity, not out of fear or inability, but out of love. It was this love; this spirit of divine grace that was interwoven into More’s every action that gave his him the tenacity to outlast his physical body. More the body died, but in doing so immortalized those aspects of himself that were most remarkable: his passion, his fidelity, his faith, and his love.

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