Moral Relativism vs Absolutism a Man for All Seasons

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Moral Relativism and absolutism are opposite beliefs and feelings towards the truth. Moral relativism, a scholar put it, “is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them” (Gowans). It is not forcing one truth above others, but tolerating all truths as correct for that individual, it is changing beliefs in order to keep a convenience, and1 it is the belief to try to appease disagreement and keep peace. Absolutism, on the other hand, is sticking to one truth that is not dependent on another situation or belief and is never adjusting the truth. In A Man for All Seasons, Bolt uses characters to express these differing opinions of truth in difficult situations. Through King Henry VIII and Thomas More, one can see the contrast in moral relativism and absolutism in A Man for All Seasons.

In A Man for All Seasons King Henry is the most morally relative character who changes his opinion with what is convenient. When he first became king, he wanted to marry his brother’s Spanish wife because an alliance between Spain and England was very popular amongst the people. Although the law forbade marrying a brother’s wife, King Henry found it convenient to marry Catherine at that time. After she bore him no sons, and the Spanish-English ally was not as popular, King Henry claimed, “It was no marriage; she was my brother’s widow” (Bolt 54). He insisted on a divorce and used his previous burden of a law as his support for the divorce. Henry shows that he does not stick firmly to one truth, but rather believes truth to be suitable to his surrounding circumstances. Although the King, like many people, believes in what is convenient or safe for the moment, there are those that stand up for their beliefs through thick and thin such as Thomas More.

More is a firm absolutist who commits himself to one truth and doesn’t fluctuate due to inconvenience or struggles....
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