A Man for All Seasons Story

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Many times in literature characters follow a common flow with society. In the story A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt, the Common Man is a conformist who highlights many important roles of society in England during the fifteenth century. The Common man appears throughout the play as: Sir Thomas More’s steward named Matthew, a boatman, a publican, a jailer, a jury foreman, and a headsman who decapitates Sir Thomas More. The significance of the Common Man lies in his role in representing society as an individual and as a foil to Sir Thomas More. The Common Man is first introduced in the play as Sir Thomas More’s steward, Matthew. Matthew is very effective in expressing the role of the common man because he takes part in much slander in order to benefit himself such as in Act One Matthew takes money from Chapuys and Cromwell and gives them information about Sir Thomas More in return. In the opening of the play Matthew is displeased with Sir Thomas More’s generosity when he gives the silver cup to Richard Rich. Matthew replies to this act by saying “My master Thomas More would give anything to anyone. Some say that’s good and some say that’s bad, but I say he can’t help it and that’s bad...because some day someone is going to ask him for something that he wants to keep; and he will be out of practice. There must be something that he wants to keep. That’s only common sense.” This quote is very significant because it foreshadows Sir Thomas More’s death. Sir Thomas More could have prevented his death if he would have given up his sense of self and went against his conscious and beliefs. Another significant act by Matthew is in Act Two, Sir Thomas can no longer afford Matthew and so More dismisses Matthew from his home. Matthew seeks employment from Richard Rich; this shows the common man’s only concern for himself and his aloofness to any loyalty to Sir Thomas More. In Act One the Common Man takes on the role of the Boatman. The Boatman most closely represents...
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