A Man for All Seasons: Questions on the Play – Act Two
Scene 1. pp. 47-57 - Home of Sir Thomas More
1. Bolt has decided to skip two years in history and he uses the Common Man to summarize the intervening events for the audience. The Common Man reports that two Acts of Parliament have been passed. Do some Internet research and summarize what The Act of Supremacy and The Act of Succession state? What was the Treasons Act?
The Act of Succession, passed in March of 1534, states that the child of Henry and his first wife Catherine, Princess Mary, would now be considered a bastard and therefore not in line for the crown. The child of Henry and Anne Boleyn, Princess Elizabeth, would be next in line for the crown.
The Act of Supremacy, passed in Nov. 1534, made King Henry the head of the new Church of England. This new religion replaced the Catholic Church with the Pope at its head and required all citizens to be willing to take a vow of allegiance to this Act.
The Treasons Act was later enacted. This act made it possible to put to death any person who refused to take a vow pledging their acceptance of the Act of Supremacy. This is eventually how Thomas More was executed for treason. 2. What is the “legal quibble” Roper speaks of in regard to The Act? (p. 48).
This Act of Supremacy states that King Henry is the head of the Church of England “as far as the law of God allows.” More believes that this is a excuse, since he does not think that God would allow it at all. 3. Why doesn’t More like being called a saint by Chapuys?
More knows that people are often made Saints after they die defending the Catholic Church. He knows that Chapuys, an ambassador from Spain who is loyal to the Queen, wouldn’t mind much if More became a martyr in defense of the Catholic Church. 4. What does Chapuys discuss with More? How does More treat Chapuys? (p. 50, 51)
Chapuys tries to give More a letter from the King of Spain. He also tries to convince More to renounce as Chancellor to show his disapproval of the Church of England. He also tells More that he has been traveling around England and has found many citizens willing to stage a revolt against King Henry. More treats Chapuys with cold anger and refuses to listen to his treasonous talk. 5. Norfolk accuses More of cowardice for resigning the Chancellorship. What answer does More give to him?
More tells his friend Norfolk that he is resigning his post as Chancellor of England because the King has declared war on the Catholic Church and More can’t participate in Henry’s government any longer. 6. To what is Norfolk referring when he says to More (p. 91) “This isn’t Spain, you know.”
Spain was very Catholic and it’s leaders were known to torture and kill opponents to the faith. Norfolk suggests that More’s reluctance to speak his full mind was the effect of fear. Norfolk trusts that King Henry is fair-minded enough to not destroy More. 7. Why is More afraid? (p. 53, 54).
More is afraid that Henry might perceive his resignation as an effort on the part of More to send a signal to the citizens that he is against the King and therefore treasonous. More is afraid that Henry will not stop trying to gain public approval from More. 8. What was “The Pilgrimage of Grace”?
An uprising of Catholics demanding the right to remain Catholic. Demand right 9. What is Lady Alice afraid of in this scene? (p. 55).
Alice is afraid that Henry will keep putting pressure on More in order to gain a public admission of More’s support. She is angry at people like Chapuys and Roper who would “support” More’s steadfastness all the way to his death as a martyr to the faith. 10. Why doesn’t More simply tell his family what his opinions are? (p. 55, 56).
More wants them to be able to vow that he has never made a treasonous statement against the King. More believes that if they are asked to take a vow of truth, and they lie, they will then be sent to hell forevermore. He doesn’t want this for them, so remains...
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