I Like Treats Essay Research Paper Whether

I Like Treats Essay, Research Paper

Whether it is accurate in all its details or not, A Man for All Seasons is an attempt to

present the historical conflict between Thomas More and Henry VIII. The conflict

could be viewed as merely a political one but neither history nor the filmmakers have

viewed More’s conduct purely in that light, although Henry followed a policy which

advanced his personal power while it diminished the power of the Church of Rome. Sir

Thomas More was a moral intellectual who adhered to principles that transcended

political expediency.. There was a point beyond which he was unwilling to

compromise his personal convictions.

Robert Bolt borrows some of Brecht’s devices in creating his remarkable play, A Man for

All Seasons. “I tried then for a bold and beautiful verbal architecture, a story rather than a

plot, and overtly theatrical means of switching from one locale to another. I also used the

most notorious of alienation devices, an actor who addresses the audience and comments

on the action. He is intended to draw the audience into the play.” Bolt’s

narrator/participant is a brilliant creation in a tale about “Kings and Cardinals.” Playing a

half dozen parts as functionaries (e.g., servant, boatman, jailer, publican, etc.), The

Common Man sets the scenes and constantly reminds us that we are watching a play. He

also, and perhaps most importantly, adds his perspective on all these proceedings, forever

reinforcing that he is the quintessential man on the street. Occasionally, he jumps right out

of character, time, and period to give us an historical perspective. He’s tricky, loquacious,

charming, amusing and opinionated, and he most often speaks in the commonsense tones

of everyday life.

And yet as persuasive and amusing as The Common Man is, I think his true function is to

keep the focus on the one uncommon man in the entire play-Sir Thomas More. In a play

ripe with religious and political ideas, kings and princes, cardinals and statesmen, the

words “common, ordinary, commonsense, normal, and expected” pop up all the time. The

good and the not so good use the words “expediency, reasonableness, and political

necessity” to persuade More to give up his moral stance, which opposes Henry VIII’s

remarriage and, more important, Henry VIII’s claim to supremacy over the church. One of

the greatest legal minds of his day, More understands all the arguments for compromise

and pragmatism and expediency. He searches for every legal loophole to stay alive, but he

will not compromise his conscience.

The personal conflict between More and Henry VIII is not as intense as that between

Becket and the second Henry, but the real intellectual and moral agony involved and the

frictions provoked by family responsibilities bring the period to life. These are real people

struggling with their principles and their demons. The theological and historical questions

are played out together with personal, moral and ethical dilemmas. Papal supremacy,

interpretation of scripture, indissolubility of marriage interface with the stability of the

realm, the danger of Spain and greed for monastic riches. All intermingle with Henry

VIII’s desire for a son, his friendship with More, and his glandular drives. More’s family,

divided by the consequences of his legal hairsplitting as well as split by theological

tensions, is much less concerned than he for the sanctity of his conscience. They want him

to stay alive. Yet the supremacy of the individual conscience as well as the difficulty of the

politician reconciling his private conscience and his public duty are the major themes.

Orson Welles’ Wolsey, the venal Cromwell and the ambitious Richard Rich who sells his

soul “for Wales?” add ingredients that combine to hold any viewer’s attention.

For our specific purposes the film presents a reasonably accurate picture of the issues

surrounding the early years of the English Reformation, the “King’s Great Matter,” the

feeble English hierarchy, the creeping Calvinism of Cranmer, the catholic attitudes of the

king, the compliance of the Parliament. It raises but does not answer the question of why

the Reformation moved quickly and with comparatively little opposition in England.

More’s trial brings many of these questions together and his final statement to the court

summarizes not only his theology but shows the strength of his beliefs. The ethical and

human dilemmas provide a perfect stage for encouraging deeper investigation of the

historical issues. The very human aspects of the personal struggles provide an opportunity

to emphasize the complexity of judging the people involved in this and other such dramas

of the past and the present.

Many of our heroes today are characterized by their tremendous physical

strength, romantic appeal, and or by valor in battle. St. Thomas More

is a rather unique hero since he is not a physically robust figure,

slew no “Dragons,” and was certainly not a romantic figure who appealed

to fair maidens throughout England. Thomas More was an English

statesman and writer. More was born in London. In 1504 he entered

Parliament, but was forced to retire from public life after urging a

decrease in a proposed appropriation for King Henry 7. After the death

of the king in 1509, More became active again. During the next decade,

More attracted the attention of King Henry 8. Henry made More one of

his favorites and often sought his company for philosophical

conversations. More became Lord Chancellor in 1529; he was the first

layman to hold the post. His fortunes change, however, when he refused

to support Henry’s request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. More

resigned from the chancellorship in 1532 and withdrew from public

notice. The king had imprisoned him in 1534. More was tried the

following year; he refused to take an oath of supremacy, asserting that

Parliament did not have the right to usurp papal authority in favor of

the king. More was decapitated in 1535. In 1935 he was canonized by the

Roman Catholic church. More is considered a hero because of his

bravery for standing up for his morality. More had to go against his

friend the king in order to stand up for what is right. More’s faith in

God and how he died for Him gave him the right to be considered a hero.

More shows us that we should believe in what is right. He shows that

even withought using weapons and being a “stud” we could be heroes by

following God.

When Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is unable to produce an heir to the

throne, he uses that as a pretext for the pope to grant him a divorce, so he can marry his

newest conquest, Anne Boleyn.

The King is backed by everyone on this request except the highly regarded and religious

Sir Thomas More. When Cardinal Wolsey, Chancellor of England, names More as his

successor, it becomes important for Henry to get More’s support, but More cannot be


Henry demands the clergy to renounce the Pope and to name him Head of the Church of

England. Oliver Cromwell frames More, forcing him to resign as Chancellor. Eventually

More is brought to trial, found guilty of treason, and beheaded.


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