A Man For All Seasons - Friend or Foe

A Man For All Seasons - Friend or Foe

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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.

There are two main reasons that Rich would be considered a “Foe” and those are his weak moral character and his devalue of More’s friendship. These are reasons to make someone a “Foe” because if a person doesn’t hold true to their morals then they are easily persuaded and if a person had the friendship of More then they would be idiots not to keep that friendship and respect. In the following paragraphs I will give examples from the book of these reasons.

One reason why Rich is a “Foe” is because his moral character isn’t very strong and throughout the book there are many times where it is shown that Rich doesn’t have a strong moral character, for example:

Rich: But every man has his price?
More: No-no-no-
Rich: But yes! In money too.
More: No no no
Rich: Or pleasure. Titles, woman, bricks-and-mortar, there’s always something.
More: Childish.

In this quote (pg.4) it shows that Rich can be bought and he is trying to tell More that this is normal because everyone “has his price”. However, More, being the kind and charitable man he is, tries to explain that being able to be bought is not normal and it is a moral weakness in someone’s character and tries to help him get a job as a teacher where there is no temptation of bribery. Another example of how Rich’s moral character is weak is when he is talking to Cromwell and Cromwell tells him that he is to become Secretary to the Council, which he asks Rich not tell anyone about it. However when Cromwell repeats the question over and over, Rich, finally, says he would but it would depend on the bribe.

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The quote is as follows (pg.71-72):

Cromwell: No ceremony, no courtship. Be seated. As his majesty would say. Yes; see how I trust you.

Rich: Oh, I would never repeat or report a thing like that-
Cromwell: What kind of thing would you repeat or report?
Rich: Well, nothing said in friendship-may I say “friendship”?

Cromwell: If you like. 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.

In the beginning of the book More trusts Rich as a friend and he helps to get Rich a job as a librarian for the Duke of Norfolk, however, Rich stabs More in the back by joining Cromwell, who dislikes More very much and wants to see his demise. For instance in this quote he gives away information about a goblet given to More from a litigant that he was given by More who gave it to him in secret because he didn’t want to be bribed because he thought this was wrong. The quote is as follows (pg.75-76):

Cromwell: Just so. This goblet that he gave you, how much was it worth? Come along, Rich, he gave you a silver goblet. How much did you get for it?
Rich: Fifty shillings
Cromwell: Could you take me to that shop?
Rich: Yes
Cromwell: Where did he get it? It was a gift from a litigant, a woman, wasn’t it?
Rich: Yes
Cromwell: Which court? Chancery? No, don’t get drunk. In which court was this litigant’s case?
Rich: Court of Requests
Cromwell: There, that wasn’t too painful, was it?
Rich: No!

Another example of how Rich devalues Mores friendship is when he is confronted about it and denies it. This happens when Cromwell confronts Rich about his friendship with More and he denies and when Cromwell says that More got him a job he devalues that by saying that More only recommended him to the Duke even though Rich couldn’t have gotten the job himself. This also shows that Rich doesn’t hold to his views under pressure, which makes easily changed. The quote is as follows (pg.36-37):

Cromwell: ….There you are in a comparative backwater-yet the new Lord Chancellor’s an old friend of yours.
Rich: He isn’t really my friend…
Cromwell: Oh, I thought he was.
Rich: In a sense he is.
Cromwell: Well, I always understood that he set you up in life.
Rich: He recommended me to the Duke.

In conclusion Sir Thomas More can’t trust Richard Rich because of his morally weak character, he devalues More’s friendship and he cracks under pressure. More also can’t trust Cromwell and when Cromwell and Rich are united they are dangerous even to though the smartest of men which More is one. I believe that Rich by himself would not be considered as dangerous as Cromwell, however, that is just my opinion.


A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt
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