A Man For All Seasons

More's Ideal Character in A Man for All Seasons

In Robert Bolt’s A Man for all Seasons, Thomas More is a man whose sense of self is set in stone. He dies not because he wants to be martyred or made a hero, but because he finds himself unable to compromise his integrity. Throughout the play, the characters that interact with More act as foils. When their priorities are contrasted with his, they more clearly define him as an individual. In this way, the reader achieves a deeper understanding of More by gaining insight into what he is not, rather than what he is. More, the “uncommon man,” is a singularly pristine figure against a soiled and compromising backdrop.

From More’s first conversation, “the price of a man” is a question that the characters struggle to articulate and understand. The ambitious and impressionable Richard Rich, whose malleable moral compass has been tampered with by reading Machiavelli, insists that “Every man has his price!” (4). More, whose values are much more deeply rooted, disagrees:

MORE: No no no.

RICH: Or pleasure. Titles, women, bricks-and-mortar, there’s always something.

MORE: Childish

RICH: Well, in suffering, certainly.

MORE: Buy a man with suffering?

RICH: Impose suffering, and offer him – escape.

MORE: Oh. For a moment I thought you were...

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