A Man For All Seasons - Study Guide Questions
What ideas does Robert Bolt convey with the use of lighting? Unlike a descriptive novel, a play has the benefit of the use of lighting. Lighting is very important in building mood and representing symbols and help immerse the views deeper into the plot, adding insight and certain aurass to the performance. Lighting is used to bring the audiences focus onto a certain character, or to highlight specific parts of the stage. Lighting is also be used to define the time of day, the mood of the setting and the tone of the scene. The change from night to day (81) is conveyed using a simple change of lighting. Light conveys the notion of change. Many scene changes are followed by the subsequent change in lighting. Like the setting of the sun indicating the change into night. Bolt’s use of light gives the viewers an ability to feel the mood of the next scene and foreshadow the outcomes. The candle is used many times throughout the play and is a source of focused light. It is small and casts a dim light, bringing the feeling of darkness and conspiracy. When taken away or blown out, it represents a change; the end of something. Wolsey exits the stage, “ taking most of the light from the stage as he does so” (13) giving the scene a dark and sinister feeling. It foreshadows the change of Lord Chancellor to Thomas More, and how this new position is going to be troublesome and fatal. Cromwell “[seizes] Rich by the wrist [and] he holds his hand in the candle flame” (46) frightening Rich and introducing the feelings of cruelty and horror into the atmosphere. Cromwell’s frightening action reflects what has happened in that scene; how Rich has now switched sides, ending his relationship with More. Their friendship smoldering away like a slow burn.
Silences are as important as dialogue in a play—discuss the most significant silent moments in the play and their importance. There are many silences in the play, such as those of the Common Man, who chose to maintain silence instead of revealing the plotting against More. More had also kept silent as Rich took the silver cup which signifies corruption instead of the teaching job, a way to benefit society. In Act II, More remains silent about Norfolk until he is sure that the friendship should be ended. When Norfolk states that More should take the oath, More ends his silence as well as the friendship. The biggest silence is More’s, which had kept him alive through the ordeal of King Henry’s divorce until the very end. This silence, according to the bible, cannot be seen as dissent towards the king. He wittily uses this silence to his advantage in order to protect himself and his family against the law, as well as to prevent perjuring his beliefs. However, Cromwell’s argument that silence can signify affirmation with the example of the silent murder witnesses cost More his life. More also protects his family from the law by refusing to answer them. The silence he maintains about his opinions with the Act of Supremacy is foreshadowed by the silence he maintains after conversing with the Cardinal. Although Alice eventually takes offence, by staying silent in front of them, they are able to truthfully answer in a court of law that they do not know his opinions.
Stage directions convey a great deal: how do the stage directions for the Common Man convey the play’s ideas? The Common Man is used by Robert Bolt to change the setting of the stage in the play. Many times in the play, he changes the setting while in character. He also addresses the audience and comments on the action as a character within the play. Robert Bolt uses the Common Man as a narrator through the stage directions to help the play to flow as a story rather than a play. Due to the Common Man’s stage directions, he is meant to draw the audience into the play rather than alienate them. He begins the first act by...
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