A Man for All Seasons Principle vs. Pragmatism

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Thomas More in the play “A Man for All Seasons” written by Robert Bolt is a great example of men processing righteousness and valuing honor. He stands firmly on his principles and lives by protecting them. More, the English Chancellor is strongly against the King Henry VIII’s decision to divorce his current wife Catherine and marry his mistress Lady Ann as the divorce is a violation of the Law of God. More believes that the King’s act of divorce and remarriage is unethical, and that himself, as the Chancellor, should not allow such things happen. Thus, he boldly states this opinion in front of the King when the King and his fellows visit his family. His action, of course, exasperates the King and angers the King’s fellows such as Cromwell, who makes his career by pleasing the King. However, peer pressure does not make him budge from his ideals. The man holds on to his principles even facing the threat of dishonoring or death. However, More also has a pragmatic side. More tries to protect himself from the consequences of disapproving the King by using the human law. He believes that if he makes no statement about the divorce, he would not be found guilty for any reason. In the play, when Cromwell and Rich are accusing Moore of treason, he defenses his innocence by stating that he has never made any public statement on whether he approves the King’s divorce and according to the law he is thus not guilty. Later in the play, More explains his silence to his wife again. He reinstates the importance of making statement in public or even privately so that his family cannot testify against him. His mind clearly shows his pragmatic line of thinking. Throughout the play he has made some tough choices but ultimately he chooses principles over pragmatism. His words on the Supremacy Act vouches for his choice: “Nevertheless, it is not for the Supremacy that you have sought my

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