A Man For All Seasons
When free will is pushed on us, we develop a strong sense of responsibility for it's wise use. A large array of factors often affect our choices. Religion, morals, upbringing, society, and environment, are a few of these. If we were to consciously ignore one of the factors to make an uninformed choice, it would violate our free will and self-respect. To be true to oneself, you must be incoherent to assimilation. You have to follow your heart to the right decision. In the play, A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt, the main character Sir Thomas More, is faced with these choices. He can follow what society does, but instead he makes a choice that he feels is right. He stands by it until the end. He is courageous enough to battle the King of England, and is therefore accused of leading a concealed attack on the throne. He protests the unlawful marriage of King Henry and Anne Boleyn, because of his christian beliefs. He refuses the divorce of Henry and Catherine, and remains steadfast during harsh criticism. More is truly "A Man For All Seasons" because he can remain true to his beliefs, family, and country when faced with controversial situations.
More's has many strong religious beliefs. He quarrels with Roper over the marriage with Margaret, More's daughter. More wants his daughter to marry inside the church because of his views. Roper has heretical beliefs, so More doesn't allow the marriage. More says to Roper, "Roper, the answer's 'no'. And will be 'no' so long as you're a heretic"(pg17). Roper's Lutheran outlook is a strong source of friction with More's Christian beliefs. Roper again tries to assert his allegiance to Luther's ideas, More responds by saying, "Listen, Roper. Two years ago you were a passionate Churchman; now you're a passionate â Lutheran. We must just pray, that when your head's finished turning your face is to the front again"(pg17). More is adamant in his stance, and will not change. He strongly disapproves of Roper's religion and shows his unwillingness to compromise in a religious matter. Margaret asks, " Is that final, father?" to which More replies, "As long as he's a heretic, Meg, that's absolute. Nice boyâ¦Terribly strong principles thoughâ¦"(pg18). More will not change, and he expects those around him to modify their views in order to coincide with his. More will not negotiate his views because to compromise is to show weakness in one's outlook and in turn give in.
More's belief in the law also remained strong even when it seemed as if the law would be his doom. More tries to hide behind the law to save him. When discussing the Act of Supremacy, More argues, "Supreme Head of the Church in England-'so far as the law of God allows.' How far the law of God does allow it remains a matter of opinion, since the Act doesn't state it"(pg48). He believes that with his understanding of the law, he will find a way to take the oath and still have a humble conscience. More wants nothing more than to be protected under the law which he so religiously observed on a daily basis. However, More's plan could be seen by many as being treasonous. Norfolk makes this very assumption, and when he questions More about it, More replies by saying, "The law requires more than an assumption; the law requires a fact"(pg77). More will not change his views of the law, even when challenged by Roper. More questions Roper's views of the law by saying;
-- "Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you- where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast- Man's laws, not God's â and if you cut them down- and you're just the man to do it- d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake"(pg39).
More will stay with the law in order to get it's benefits because the true and just will be rewarded from its fruit. More has done nothing wrong, so there is no need for the law to be against him. His beliefs coincide with the law and that is the way he chooses it to be.
More remains strong in his belief that through a dispensation granted by the Pope, King Henry is legally and holily married to Catherine. Announcing his views openly will undoubtedly be seen as treasonous, therefore he must remain silent in order to be protected under the law and still be satisfied with his conscience. Even though More chose to use a passive stance in combating the divorce of Henry and Catherine's marriage, he never turned back on the ideals it represented. More was satisfied by his silence, and so it seemed to be working against him as his silence was seen as disapproval. "If we govern our tongues they will!â¦ -have you heard me make a statement?"(pg55). More's lack of vocal elaboration was so that he could be given the benefit of the doubt under the law. More never gave in to the King, nor did he change his stance on the matter. In this dangerous undertaking, More wanted to protect himself and his family so he chose not to disclose his agenda even with them. "â¦Alice, that in silence is my safety under the law, but my silence must be absolute, it must extend to you"(pg56). Worried faces started to appear in England. Cromwell said, "This 'silence' of his is bellowing up and down Europe!"(pg58). More's silence has even spread throughout Europe. Even under a great strain and pressure, More did not waver or modify his position. He remained steadfast in his beliefs, on the situation that had plagued England, regarding the divorce.
Hence, More is evidently "A Man For All Seasons" because of his ability to remain true to his beliefs, family, and country when faced with adverse situations. More's character is one of persistence, intelligence and among other things, courage. The way in which More kept his belief in religion, the law, and a faulty divorce during his most trying times leads us to believe that More possessed something special with regards to his character. The author of this play, Robert Bolt, would like to stress to the audience the importance of More's willingness to sacrifice himself for his faith and beliefs. A man such as More, who has strong convictions and the courage to chose to make the right choices, has a quality that Bolt admired; More's steadfastness. More could passively challenge the Church of England, while stating his opinion without actually saying anything that could harm himself or be presented in court as evidence. We should all learn something from a great person such as Sir Thomas More, whether it be courage, steadfastness, or persistence, it is clear that More is truly "A Man For All Seasons".