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Thomas More: Preserving Self in Society in A Man for All Seasons

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Some might say he’s a hypocrite. Others may adopt a Christian perspective to his moral struggle. Robert Bolt, however, would describe him as a man who exemplified an “adamantine sense of his own self” (Bolt xii). A Man for All Seasons, although non-theological in its scope, nevertheless presents a dramatic hero of no small interest to the contemporary Christian, but whose significance does not end there. Sir Thomas More, a well-known martyr and inspiration to those “moral” among us, is a man of inexorable integrity, whose steadfast adherence to his religious and ethical beliefs led to his tragic demise, and to the expanding popularity of his character. More’s struggle presents a morally blatant — and…show more content…
Bolt’s answer (as More explains it to his son-in-law William Roper) is, “God’s my god…But I find him rather too…subtle…I don’t know where he is nor what he wants” (67). More respects God’s law as the ultimate, but he doesn’t attempt to understand or enforce it:

…I’m not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can’t navigate. I’m no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I am a forester…This countries planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (66).

Here, More asserts his support of secular laws as the best available defense against what Bolt calls “that larger context occupied by God and Devil nakedly at war.” Thus, if man’s law occasionally contradicts God’s, or lets some evildoers off the hook, its benefits far outweigh its faults. However, if that is the case, then where does this Oath of Supremacy fall on the scale of “acceptable secular law?”
In this sense, More is thoroughly pragmatic, but not, like Thomas Cromwell and Richard Rich, at the expense of his beliefs. It is apparent More wished to be uninvolved with the divorce, which unwittingly dominated his thoughts and prayers. Whenever a peer attempted to extract More’s opinion on the subject, he expressed his desire “not to think of
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