Adversity and Its effects
A Man for all Seasons is a play that was written by prolific English writer, Robert Bolt. Born in 1924, he worked as an insurance agent before joining the World War II as a Royal Air Force officer. He worked as a school teacher, after his time at the force, before embarking on writing this particular play. The same year he wrote it; it featured as a play in London and New York. It is crucial to understand the background of the play to understand it with more power. According to Kincaid, it is useful to understand that for many years in England there had been hostility to the clergy, because the Church had great worldly powers, property, and wealth, while many members of the clergy were corrupt and self-seeking. (11) With this play, Bolt wanted to bring out the strong characteristic steadiness of standing on one’s feet and owns ground in what one believes irrespective of what others think or say.
The main character, Sir Thomas More, is a judge who is steadfast and firm in his beliefs. He is not easily swayed by people’s opinions, influence, threats, and intimidation. He objects to endorsing King Henry VIII’s plan of divorcing his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and marry Anne Boleyn. The King having promoted Sir Thomas to the position of Lord Chancellor of England, and Thomas being his long standing friend, will automatically guarantee Sir Thomas agreeing to support him. He wants Thomas to publicly endorse his divorce plan, but Thomas More feels Henry’s actions are not justified, and the divorce is not appropriate. This is backed by Greene when he affirms that even as Nobles, universities and the Clergy fell into line behind the King, More’s silence on the matter resounded thunderously. Despite the king’s unhappiness with More’s decision to remain silent, he stands firm and refuse to do what everybody else did even though the pressure on his family grew stronger and stronger (7). This shows his autonomy and independence in making his own informed decisions unlike the likes of Cromwell and Richard Rich who act as the King’s “yes men” doing all his bidding. Cromwell, the king’s intimate, works for the king to have More falsely persecuted and beheaded. We will develop here three main kind of adversities that More had to face: authoritarian, Family, himself.
Sir Thomas More’s strong character and moral integrity are alluded to by the title of the play, A Man for all Seasons. The title is a reference to More’s never changing character and direction in life. According to Miller, More was a character with extraordinary blending of gaiety and gravity and for his flexible adaptation to company of all sorts. However, he knew how to compromise and not go out of his way; he did not bend rules, adopt or change for the sake of anyone, even King Henry VIII apart from his own God (26-27). This statement concisely puts down his beliefs and what kind of person he was.
Thomas works within the boundaries of his own principles and in the end, dies for what he believes in. Lee compares Sir Thomas More with Roper. At the beginning of the play when the two of them are talking, Roper seems really devoted to his principles but as the play continues on, we learn that Roper is in fact not as true to his values as Sir Thomas More is. Lee talks about the “Romanticized” vision of a prison that Roper has compare to the reality of what More is living. When Roper visited More in prison he even encouraged More to give up when he saw the “awfulness of prison”. (319). His obstinate sense of self -righteous and defense for justice sees him earn many foes and adversaries. Just like Roper, many people pretending to be More’s friends turned out to become his enemies plotting behind his back for his downfall. His family, friends, and colleagues turn their back on him, and the adversaries from both his seniors and juniors continue swelling. The following are some of the most significant and outstanding adversaries Judge Sir Thomas...
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