A Man for All Seasons Essay

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“A man for all seasons” Robert Bolt’s ‘A man for all seasons” is a historical play unfolding a riveting dramatic representation of Sir Thomas More and the events leading to his downfall pending the reign of King Henry VIII. Bolt’s style of writing encompassed the experiences of characters whose beliefs were at odds with governing societal demeanours. At the time of impetuous social and cultural unravelling, personal integrity and existential attitudes were tested when faced with the struggles of conformity. Sir Thomas More is the epitome of a man’s integrity to his morals and spirited faith that is tested relentlessly as others conspired against him. The play’s central conflict ascends with More’s negation to conform to the King’s wishes. In the sixteenth century it was imperative for a King to be able to produce a male heir to the throne in order to ensure the family’s control of the republic. Believing that the fault lay with his current wife, Catherine who was his brother’s widow, King Henry sought to annul his marriage when he became infatuated with the lusty and seemingly more fertile Anne Boleyn - “Catherine’s his wife and she’s barren as a brick”. He disregarded any immoral claims to his decision citing Leviticus 18: “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife” however it is evident that his actions were not out of goodwill and was indeed immoral to the extent of going against the Catholic Church. Sir Thomas More’s “adamantine” “sense of his own self” is juxtaposed with Henry’s conniving disposition. As a highly respected figure of the realm, the king’s annulment could not be passed without More’s sworn oath, however he refused which only ignited the conspiratorial egotism of the king. More’s disavowal to explain the reasons behind his opposition to the oath was an act of selflessness just as it is, paradoxically, an act of selfishness:

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