A Man for All Seasons: Summary

Topics: Thomas More, Audience, John Fisher Pages: 3 (953 words) Published: September 1, 2009
How does the Common Man enable the audience to understand the complexities of More’s character? Though A Man for All Seasons in itself is a complicated and sustained view into the lives of those surviving in England under a corrupt system, the Common Man is a vital element in the play that documents the inner struggles of a man torn between ‘political realities’ of the day and his faith and knowledge of his own character. By acting as a make shift chorus, the Common Man is able to persuade the audience to remain detached in order to consider the many layered, multi-dimensional More and to consider his motivation and reasoning for his action of remaining ‘silent’. The Common Man also allows and encourages a very dramatic contrast of character between More and himself, along with what would seem characters of ‘all seasons’ in Rich and the State. By lacking in character development, the Common Man is able to successfully communicate the intricacies of More’s concise and important construction. From the beginning of the play, opening with a grand declaration of ‘the Sixteenth Century is the century of the common man’, the audience is immediately aware of his importance in not only beginning, but in the unfolding of events as a sort of commentator as the play progresses. He is meant, as suggested by his distinctive label of ‘the common man’ and his seemingly unidentifiable ‘black’ bit of cloth for a costume, to represent a jack-of-all-trades, a shapeshifter. Most importantly, he is a physical presence on stage that communicates directly with the audience – a constant reminder that this play is not meant to be regarded in the hearts of those watching, but with the heads. He often foreshadows events, offering a suggestion that there will be ‘something that [More] want to keep; and he’ll be out of practice’ which in itself does not communicate very much on its own, but allows the audience to critically consider the decisions that More makes – such as the ‘appearance’...
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