A Man for All Seasons - by Robert Bolt: More's Moral Dilemma

Topics: Henry VIII of England, Thomas More, Anne Boleyn Pages: 3 (1241 words) Published: October 8, 1999
"A Man for All Seasons" by Robert Bolt: More's Moral Dilemma

During the English renaissance in the 1500's, King Henry VIII wants a divorce from his wife for various reasons, but divorce is against the Catholic religion. This is why he wants Sir Thomas More's consent, because More is a highly respected Catholic, but he is such a good Catholic that he goes against divorce. In the play, A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt, King Henry VIII applies pressure on Thomas More to support the divorce in many ways. He exerts it both directly and indirectly in forms of threats and intimidation from various people. Henry forces Meg, More's "renaissance woman" daughter, to take an oath in order to see him, so she tries to influence his decision about the divorce by using her intellect and by begging. Wolsey, a cardinal, was told by the king to try to persuade him to support the king's divorce by appointing him to a political office, so if More does not support the king, he could be executed for treason. Similarly, the king orders Cromwell, his assistant, to apply pressure by finding a reason to kill More, to force him out of the way. All of these pressures from the king lead to a moral dilemma that More has to face, but he chooses to stick to his morals.

King Henry applies pressure on More to support the divorce through Meg. While More is in jail for failing to take an oath supporting the divorce, Meg tries to convince him to take the oath, and she says, "Say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise," (page 81). More responded to this by saying, "What is an oath then but words we say to god?" (page 81). Meg is applying direct pressure on More by asking him to say the oath and not believe in it, so he will get the benefits of believing it and stick to his morals at the same time. However, More thinks this is against Catholic religion because he thinks of an oath as "words we say to God," so he certainly can not use Meg's strategy. Meg...
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