, Research Paper
In the play A Man For All Seasons, the main character is Sir Thomas More. Sir Thomas is the Chancellor of England and a very religious man. Once, during a conversation with Wolsey (Chancellor at the time) about the King needing a son, Wolsey asks if Sir Thomas would like to govern the whole country by prayer and Sir Thomas agrees. This shows how strong his faith was. Sir Thomas is a friend of King Henry VIII, but when he disagreed with the King s opinion on marriage, he was beheaded. King Henry was married to Catherine of Argon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. Catherine was Henry s brother s widow. King Henry and Catherine were married for State reasons , but although Catherine was pregnant many times, only one child survived Princess Mary. King Henry needed an heir to his throne, so he wanted a son. He thought Catherine could never get him a son, because she had already failed so many times, so he wanted to have a child with Anne Boylen, but he couldn t because he was already married to Catherine. Therefore, he wanted the Pope to divorce him and Catherine also, for State reasons. When Sir Thomas didn t agree with the divorce, many people turned away from him. His wife, Lady Alice, begged Sir Thomas to agree with the King, just to make life simpler, but Thomas refused. He believed the he wouldn t go to Heaven if his conscience was not clear, and his conscience told him not to just tell the King what he wanted to hear, but to tell the King the truth. This is just a basic overview of what happened in A Man for All Seasons.
In Act I Scene 1, the book introduces you to some of its main characters. Sir Thomas and Master Richard Rich are first to be introduced. Rich is offered a job as a school teacher, but he wants to be in office. Sir Thomas gives Rich a silver cup that was given to him as a bribe by a woman who put a lawsuit into the Court of Requests. After giving Rich the cup, Sir Thomas tells Rich of all the temptations you have when you are in office money, manors, villages, mills, etc. Then enter the Duke of Norfolk and Lady Alice, Sir Thomas s wife, and Margaret More, Sir Thomas s daughter. The Duke of Norfolk, who is Earl Marshall of England, is in his late 40 s, a sportsman, a soldier, and a great nobleman. Lady Alice is in her late 40 s, born into merchant s class, but now a great lady. Margaret is in her middle 20 s, beautiful with moral fineness. A letter is delivered to Sir Thomas More in which it says that the Cardinal needs to talk to him about King s business, immediately. Everyone is shocked that Sir Thomas has to leave now, because it s 11:00 at night. In Scene 2, Sir Thomas is at Cardinal Wolsey s. Wolsey is old with a big decayed body. Wolsey asks for Sir Thomas s help. The King wants a son and Catherine cannot get him one. He wants the King to get a divorce for State reasons. Sir Thomas doesn t agree, so Wolsey says he was an enemy in him, until he comes down to earth. In Scene 3, Sir Thomas is looking for a boat, and Cromwell approaches him. Thomas Cromwell is in his late 30 s, subtle, serious, and an intellectual bully. Cromwell is on his way to see the Cardinal and wants to know how things went with him and Sir Thomas. Signor Chapuys shows up. He is the Spanish Ambassador who is in like 60 s and a professional diplomat. Chapuys tells Sir Thomas that the King of Spain would be very insulted if Catherine were to be hurt or insulted. He uses this as a kind of threat to Sir Thomas, as if to make sure Catherine will not get hurt. In Scene 4, when Sir Thomas comes home, he finds out that William Roper is there with Lady Margaret. Roper wants to marry Margaret, but Sir Thomas says he cannot as long as he is a heretic. Sir Thomas tells William to get a horse out of the stable and go home. When Lady Alice and Lady Margaret try to talk to Sir Thomas about his visit with Wolsey, Thomas just ignores them. Lady Alice says that Norfolk was talking about Sir Thomas for Chancellor, and Sir Thomas says he wouldn t want to be Chancellor because Wolsey is Chancellor now, and because of that, Norfolk shouldn t be saying he wants Sir Thomas to be Chancellor. In Scene 5, Rich and Cromwell are talking and you find out that Rich is now the Duke s secretary, and that Sir Thomas is now Chancellor. Sir Thomas s steward, Matthew, is at Cromwell s and is serving as Cromwell s spy, although he never tells Cromwell anything worth hearing. Matthew is also a spy for Chapuys, but tells him nothing important. In Scene 6, the King comes for a surprise visit. He is clean-shaven, bright eyed, graceful, athletic, and his clothing is made of gold. The King asks Sir Thomas if he has thought about the divorce with Catherine, and Sir Thomas says that he doesn t agree with the King and that he doesn t feel like divorce would be right. The King leaves and Lady Alice is very afraid that Sir Thomas has offended him. Master Rich comes to tell Sir Thomas that Cromwell is collecting information about him, and so is Chapuys, but Sir Thomas already knows. Rich begs for Sir Thomas to employ him, but Sir Thomas refuses. Sir Thomas says that you have to follow all laws, because if you break them all, you will have nothing to protect you. In Scene 7, Cromwell tells Rich that Sir Thomas Paget (Collector of Revenues for York) is retiring, and says Rich should take his spot. In Act II Scene 1, William Roper and Thomas More are talking about the Act of Supremacy. This act says that: the King is Supreme Head of the Church in England, so far as the law of God allows. Sir Thomas is quick to point out the last part of the Act, and will not state his opinion on how far the law of God allows. Then, Chapuys comes to visit Sir Thomas. Chapuys says that he doesn t approve of what the King is doing with Catherine. He tells Sir Thomas that maybe he should think about resigning, because that will send a signal that he does not stand for everything the King says and does. Sir Thomas says that the King is at war with the Pope because the Pope will not declare that Catherine is not his wife. Sir Thomas is resigning and Norfolk tells him that the King is very saddened by this, but accepts his resignation. Lady Alice wants to get a statement from Sir Thomas about his thoughts on the King s divorce, but he refuses because he doesn t want to start trouble. Sir Thomas realizes that he will have to let most of his servants go, but he says he won t until he finds another place for them to work. He tells Matthew that he can stay if he will take smaller pay, but Matthew doesn t want to. In Scene 2, Cromwell and Norfolk are discussing Sir Thomas and Cromwell says that he needs Sir Thomas to give a brief declaration of his loyalty to the King. He says the way they can make him do this is with some pressure. He brings in Richard and Richard tells them about the silver cup that was given to him by Sir Thomas. Cromwell wants to make it look like Sir Thomas accepted bribe. Norfolk proves him wrong, and Cromwell says he will find something better to pressure Sir Thomas with. Matthew wants to be Richard s steward. In Scene 3, Chapuys thinks Sir Thomas is for Spain because he opposes Cromwell. Chapuys has a letter for Sir Thomas from the King of Spain, in which he supposedly expresses his admiration for Sir Thomas and his view of the divorce of Queen Catherine. Sir Thomas refuses to take the letter because he is loyal to the King of England. The church is offering Sir Thomas money, but he refuses to take it because some people might see it as a bribe, and that could be dangerous. Roper comes and tells Sir Thomas that he is to go to Cromwell s to face some charges. In Scene 4, Cromwell tries to get Sir Thomas in trouble by accusing him of writing the King s book, A Defense of the Seven Sacraments. Sir Thomas says he did not write the book, he merely answered certain questions that the King asked him. Then, Cromwell reads to More an excerpt from a letter the King wrote. In it it says that the King has never before had so traitorous a subject as Sir Thomas. This deeply shocks Sir Thomas, and he goes home. In Scene 5, Sir Thomas is looking for a boat and Norfolk comes up to him. Norfolk tries to convince Sir Thomas to give in and do as his friends are doing. Norfolk tells More that he is a dangerous man to know, so Sir Thomas tells him to cease to know him, and forget their friendship. This seems impossible to Norfolk, so Sir Thomas starts insulting him to get him mad. Finally, Norfolk gets mad and tries to hit Sir Thomas just as Margaret and Roper come in. Roper tells More that there is a new Act through Parliament about the marriage of King Henry, in which it says they are going to administer an oath. They all go home to look at the Bill. In Scene 6, Sir Thomas is in jail. Norfolk, Cromwell, Richard Rich, and the Archbishop (Thomas Cranmer) are there to talk to him. With them, they bring the Act of Succession. They tell him that all his friends have signed it, and want to know why he will not. They ask if he will swear that the offspring of Queen Anne are heirs to the King. Sir Thomas says that he will, but there is more than that in the Act, so therefore he will not sign that. They want to know what More opposes in the Act, but he will not tell them, not matter how hard they try to get it out of them. In Scene 7, Sir Thomas s family comes to visit him in jail. They try to convince him to sign the Act, so they can get back to their normal life, but Sir Thomas is very set on his views and refuses. Lady Alice gets mad at her husband for not signing the Act, but when the jailer says she has to leave soon, she realizes that this may be the last time she sees her husband, and she forgives him. In Scene 8, More is at the Hall of Westminster to answer charges of High Treason. They say that More denied King Henry the title of Supreme Head of the Church in England. Sir Thomas never denied this, but since he refused the oath, they assume that he is denying the King his title. This is considered High Treason, and punished by death. Sir Thomas basically gets no trial he is guilty no matter what he says, unless he signs the Act and takes the oath. The jury doesn t even retire to think of the judgement. They pronounce Sir Thomas guilty. More asks if he can say something before he is put to death. They grant him this, and he says that he is the King s true subject and has always been loyal to him. Scene 9 is the closing scene of the play. In it, Sir Thomas is to be beheaded. Margaret is there, and she is deeply grieved. Her father tells her that death comes to everyone, and it is the course of nature and the will of God. Sir Thomas tells the Headsman to send him to God, and not to be afraid of his office, and the Headsman beheads him, and says Behold the head of a traitor. This is what happened in A Man for All Seasons.