Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons

Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons

Length: 1345 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons

Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons is a provoking historical drama. Thomas More, who is considered to be an honest man, is entangled in the politics of the day and having to decide between his own welfare and his personal conscience. Thomas is an absolute saint of the church, but now he had to choose between two different kinds of loyalty. The theme seems to be recurring, regardless of the age or setting. In fact, it is the Common Man who reminds the audience "The 16th century is the century of the common man. Like all the other centuries." By performing different characters with same personalities, “Common Man” enabled the audience to understand the complexities of More’s character in the way of juxtaposition.

The Common Man in the play is actually an alienation device, which was first invented by Bertolt Brecht. Here, the Common Man is an effective device to maintain interest, interpret the action and convey the themes. He just like the Chorus in ancient Greek drama, whose role was to review the action, explores motivations and issues, foretell what might happen and explore any consequences. Both the Common Man and the Chorus relate the play to audience’s everyday life and their frame of reference in modern society. He is the linkage between the audiences and the stage. Just like how he is called, the Common Man, has all the characteristics ordinary people does. He has ordinary morals, ordinary doubts and ordinary concerns, which means he is always ready to compromise, distrustful of martyrdom and plays things low. He is the “Old Adam”, he is “us all”.

Thomas More, who is the Chancellor of England during Henry 8th, is just the opposite of Common Man. At that time, Henry and his wife Catherine had been unable to birth a boy to be the heir of England, so Henry wanted to divorce with her and marry Anne Boleyn, but cannot get permission from the Pope. Henry tried very hard to get help from Thomas More because he is known to be an honest man and had very good reputation across the whole Europe. Henry pointed out extremely clearly that “Because you are honest. What’s more to the purpose, you’re known to be honest.” However, More is a strong principled man who held his belief firmly, he was loyal to the Church, at the same time, as the Chancellor of England, he cannot be disloyal to the King.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons." 123HelpMe.com. 28 Jan 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=161584>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Values and Morals in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt

- Values and Morals in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt In the play A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt the audience learns about the extraordinary life of Sir Thomas More. Sir Thomas is faced with a moral dilemma that will determine the outcome of his life. More, chancellor of England , and a strong Christian believer is forced to choose between his close friend, King Henry VIII, and the supreme lord his God. More is a man of moral integrity because he refuses to submit to external pressures to sign the oath condoning the Act of Supremacy....   [tags: A Man For All Seasons Robert Bolt]

Research Papers
545 words (1.6 pages)

Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons Essay

- Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons is a provoking historical drama. Thomas More, who is considered to be an honest man, is entangled in the politics of the day and having to decide between his own welfare and his personal conscience. Thomas is an absolute saint of the church, but now he had to choose between two different kinds of loyalty. The theme seems to be recurring, regardless of the age or setting. In fact, it is the Common Man who reminds the audience "The 16th century is the century of the common man....   [tags: Man All Seasons Bolt]

Free Essays
1345 words (3.8 pages)

A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt Essay

- ‘A Man for All Seasons’ is a play written by Robert Bolt, previously for BBC Radio in 1954 before revising it on stage. It was premiered on the 1st of July 1960 at the Global Theatre in London. The story begins when Sir Thomas More, a scholar and a statesman, advises Richard Rich to be a teacher instead of striving to be affluent but he fails. He then gives Rich an Italian cup that was given to him by a lady he reviewed. It was given as a bribe and he did not realise it until after receiving it and decides not to keep it....   [tags: play analysis]

Research Papers
822 words (2.3 pages)

A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt Essay

- ACT 1, SCENE 1 Conversation between Thomas More and Richard Rich. RICH: Well there. 'A friend of Sir Thomas and still no office. There must be something wrong with him.' MORE: I thought we said friendship...The Dean of St Paul's offers you a post; with a house, a servant and fifty pounds a year. ...................... RICH: It's hard. MORE (grimly): Be a teacher. This conversation, as well as the previous one, sets up the contrast between Sir Thomas More and Richard Rich which is prevalent throughout the entire play....   [tags: Bolt Play Man All Seasons]

Free Essays
1745 words (5 pages)

Essay on The Purpose Of A Man For All Seasons By Robert Bolt

- Cultural Criticism Analysis Question 1 The purpose of A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt is to inform its readers the one should not conform to the ideologies and the pressures placed upon individuals by the society. The play portrays that discordance with the society may occur when standing by one’s conscience, but embracing one’s beliefs will lead to moral satisfaction. In the play, Thomas More does not assert against his beliefs in the favour of King Henry VIII which eventually leads to him being granted a death penalty by decapitation....   [tags: Henry VIII of England, Anne Boleyn, Democracy]

Research Papers
1486 words (4.2 pages)

Play: A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt Essay

- Beliefs are a core aspect of life, but a true test of one’s principles is how far one is willing to go to defend and preserve those beliefs. In A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More exemplifies just how strong his ethics are. A Man for All Seasons is a historical play, written in 1960 by Robert Bolt, which recounts the events of the 16th century surrounding Sir Thomas More, leading up to his death. In A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor of England during the time that King Henry VIII divorced his wife, remarried, and declared himself head of the Church of England by the Oath of Supremacy....   [tags: Character Analysis, Ethics, Virtue ]

Research Papers
1051 words (3 pages)

A Man For All Seasons - Friend or Foe Essay

- Friend or Foe In the book, A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt there are a few people that can’t be trusted by Sir Thomas More, the main character in the book. Richard Rich is definitely one of those men who can’t be trusted and along with Thomas Cromwell the two destroy More’s life slowly but surely and to the point of death. In the end of the book More is executed for high treason and his family goes from being very well off to having to start over. So this book shows that through deceitfulness of two, one can fall....   [tags: A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt]

Free Essays
887 words (2.5 pages)

The Use of Characters in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt Essay

- The Use of Characters in A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt In Robert Bolt’s “A Man For All Seasons”, there is a significant key to the use of characters. Bolt uses the characters in this play very well and in an unique fashion. Bolt has the character the common man, who takes the roles as many other characters. This is what makes this play special in its own way. Bolt uses the common man as other characters which makes the reader really think. He uses the common man as the narrator, servant, publican or innkeeper, boatman, foreman of the jury, and the executioner....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
600 words (1.7 pages)

Essay on Man For All Seasons By Robert Bolt - Henry VIII

- Man For All Seasons By Robert Bolt - Is Henry VIII an important character in the play. Is he the villain. Thomas More was the hero in the play because his standard up for his beliefs, he was not scared of anyone, he knows it was a sin if Henry VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon and gets married to Anne Boleyn. Robert Bolt thinks Thomas More was a faithful Catholic and could not accept this, or swear the oath of loyalty to the king. Henry VIII wanted to get a divorce with Catherine of Aragon and get married to Anne Boleyn....   [tags: English Literature]

Free Essays
593 words (1.7 pages)

Essay about a Man For All Seasons - By Robert Bolt: Mores Moral Dilemma

- "A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt: More's Moral Dilemma During the English renaissance in the 1500's, King Henry VIII wants a divorce from his wife for various reasons, but divorce is against the Catholic religion. This is why he wants Sir Thomas More's consent, because More is a highly respected Catholic, but he is such a good Catholic that he goes against divorce. In the play, A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt, King Henry VIII applies pressure on Thomas More to support the divorce in many ways....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1220 words (3.5 pages)

Related Searches

Cardinal Wolsey, the former Chancellor, was executed for unable to help the King with the divorce. In order to keep himself and his family safe, Thomas More decided to keep silent and seek protection from the laws. If More’s “self” is unchangeable, the Common Man's weakness is in his readiness to adapt and change into almost anything as a means to survive.

Compared with the Common Man, the characteristic of honest of Thomas More is clearly observed. In Act One, More offered Rich a silver goblet, and spoke frankly and bluntly that the goblet was a bribe from a woman who had a case at the court. More can certainly not say so, but he didn’t. When the King came to his house to talk about the divorce, the King pointed out directly that “Because you are honest. What’s more to the purpose, you’re known to be honest.” But when it comes to the Common Man, it all turned to be upside down. Matthew stole the wine of Thomas More, but lied about it; In order to protect himself, the Publican denied stoutly about knowing who Cromwell was; Jailer chose not to report Sir Thomas More’s statements for his own safe. The Common Man lies to survive, he holds his belief on self preservation, he is not a great man, he cannot affect the decisions of the Parliament, and he is only a common man, a man do whatever it takes to survive.

More is also very loyal, to both the King and the Church. He didn’t want to betray either side, so he chose to be silent. He is a liberal thinker and a man of integrity. Even he didn’t want to swear to the Act, and resigned from his office, but he still concerned for the country. He warned Norfolk about threaten from the old Church and asked him to “keep an eye on the Border”. However, the Common Man doesn’t have this good quality. Matthew, a person who should be loyal to his master, Sir Thomas More, offered information about him to Cromwell, Rich and Chapuys for money. He became one of the sources of Cromwell; he sold his soul out and turned into an accomplice who sent More to death. When Sir Thomas More resigned from the position, he had to cut down Matthew’s wage, and without hesitate, Matthew left him and went to be the servant of Rich Richard. These two men’s acts are so different that we can see Thomas More’s characteristics of loyal clearly.

Sir Thomas More is a man of principle as well. He held his belief in God so strong that nothing can bend it. He is a son of the Church. When Roper proposed to More that he wanted to marry his daughter, he refused for Roper was an heretic. More knew that Roper was a good young man and admired him a lot, but he still said no for his principles. Roper married Margaret as soon as he turned back to the Church. In order to uphold the principles, he insisted not signing on the Act, even he is threatened by death. But the Common Man changes the principles according to convenient. At first, the boatman tries to bilk More for more money, but eventually, after More is dangerous to get close to, he even refused to take him home. Whether it is the Steward, the Boatman, the Publican or the Jailer, each persona is full of self-interest and simple pragmatism. "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."

The metaphor of water appeared many times in the play. Water is flowing and changeable. The succession of characters the Common Man portrays provides an image of that fluidity. When people are aligned with the Common Man, they can find it difficult to comprehend Thomas More. For he got so many opportunities to save his life and reunite with his families. It’s hard to understand his martyrdom and strong belief in the law. In the contrast, Common Man knows the time and precisely when the stakes are too high, ”If it's worth that much now, it's worth my neck presently. I want no part of it. They can sort it out between them. I feel my deafness coming on." More also has an understanding of them, even when they steal his wine. “Matthew, I shall miss you.” While the play centre on More’s choice to die rather than sign over his name on the Act, it’s easy to determine how More’s characteristics are presented to the audience. If More is defined with his words, "a man's soul is his self", then the Common Man may best be defined by his philosophy, "better a live rat than a dead lion". Even at times the Common Man is dishonest, manipulating, unscrupulous and disloyal; he is a master of living in the society. He changes his values easily like the water bounce back when hit on the bank. Thomas More held his unchangeable principles

The alienation device has challenged our perspectives and left us with much to ponder.
Ultimately, it is not only how we, the audience, perceive the Common Man or even how he sees himself. Most importantly, it is the understanding that those in power have of the Common Man and his motives, ideals and aspirations.
Return to 123HelpMe.com