A Man For All Season And Machiavelli's Doctrine: Reiteration Of History Essay

A Man For All Season And Machiavelli's Doctrine: Reiteration Of History Essay

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A Man For All Seasons, a play written by Robert Bolt, in essence is both a moral play and a historical play. Sir Thomas More, a "man of the greatest virtue this kingdom has ever produced" (Dean Swift), is famous for choosing to suffer death rather than swearing to an oath that would counter his principles. Sir More had acquired a high position of Lord Chancellery under the reign of King Henry VIII, but stepped down since he could not do what the king had asked of him since this action would conflict with his beliefs and conscience. From that time, Sir More was in disagreement with King Henry's divorce, which led him to his own doom. Realizing that Sir More would not submit, the king decided to turn to his other advisors and approached Sir Thomas Cromwell.

Machiavelli said, "cruel behavior is to be used only when necessary for the common good". To Sir Cromwell, it is a necessity that the king's orders must be followed whatever it takes: "…it's much more a matter of convenience, administrative convenience" (Bolt, 1963, 49). Their craftiness reflects Machiavelli's writing about politics seeing it as a public responsibility that cannot afford to govern under the laws of morality. Yet to some degree, harm still comes repetitively to individuals who oppose people with dictative power. "It must be understood, that a prince … cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state." (Machiavelli).

Machiavelli remains one of the controversial figures of political history. One of his works, The Prince (also known as "A Handbook for Dictators"), contains many references...


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...ld History. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center. Thomson Gale. 24 March 2005

Bolt, Robert A Man For All Seasons Notes. Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1985.
Bolt, Robert A Man For All Seasons Notes. Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1964, 1974.
Bolt, Robert A Man For All Seasons. Toronto: Irwin Publishing, 1960, 1963.
Burnham, James, "Machiavelli: The Science of Power," in his The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, The John Day Company, Inc., 1943, pp. 29-80. DISCovering Authors. Online Edition. Gale, 2003. Student Resource Center. Thomson Gale. 23 March 2005

Jalic LCC, The Literature Network: The Prince, Copyright: 2000-2004

RAUL J. BONOAN, S.J., is the president of the Ateneo de Naga, a Jesuit-sponsored university in Naga City, Philippines, and editor of The Rizal-Pastells Correspondence, published by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 1994.

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