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Paperback A Man for All Seasons Book

ISBN: 0679728228

ISBN13: 9780679728221

A Man for All Seasons

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Book Overview

The classic dramatization of Sir Thomas More's historic conflict with Henry VIII--a compelling portrait of a courageous man who died for his convictions. Sir Thomas More--the brilliant nobleman, lawyer, humanist, author of such works as Utopia-- was a long-time friend and favorite of Henry VIII, ascending to the position of Lord Chancellor in 1529. Yet he was also a staunch Catholic, and when Henry broke with the Church in 1531 after the Pope had...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Still My Favorite

A Man for All Seasons has long been my favorite, whether in written form, stage play, or motion picture. The story is fairly simple, another angle on the drama of Henry VIII. Sir Thomas More is a deeply religious man, much troubled by the king's break with Rome and the establishment of the Church of England, naming the king as head of the church (directly contravening the idea that Christ is ultimately head of the church, indeed, Catholics believe the church to espoused to Christ). In an attempt to keep the peace, and his neck, More resigns his office and refuses to make any statement about the issue of the break with Rome or the king's divorce what-so-ever, even to his own wife. Unfortunately, it would appear that while the king doesn't want to follow the rules, he also doesn't want a bad conscience. This requires him to get the 'blessing' of someone known to be reputable on the subject, so that his conscience may rest at ease. By circumstance of who he is, More is chosen. A document is drawn up in the Parliament, rather craftily, to which subjects of the king are required to swear.Upon refusing to swear to this document More is thrown into jail. He will neither make a statement about his thoughts on the document, nor make explanation for refusing to swear. In More's thinking, he has been forced to choose between his bodily life and his immortal soul. Eventually More is tried and convicted of High Treason, carrying the sentence of death.The play is wonderfully crafted and does an excellent job of being subtle and emotional at the same time. It is the essence of a morality play. When push comes to shove, and egos, life, inheritances are on the line, where will you fall?Some criticize this play for not being historically accurate in some matters. I toss these criticisms aside with two short arguements 1.In some matters, such as More's feelings and private dealings with the king, we will never know the historical truth. 2.Most important to remember, it is a play, not a history text. It owes no wage to historical accuracy.This play is a very easy read. The language is simple enough. My only suggestion is that those readers who are not Catholic may want to do a tiny bit of research about basic Catholic theology concerning marriage and divorce, in order to understand some of the motivations in the play.

How odd: it actually lives up to its reputation!

This book is the essential companion to the movie. Or do I have it backwards?So, to what lengths will a man go to keep his honor? Is everything for sale? This is the story of conscience over expediency, which is a message we need right here, right now, especially in DC. The problem with politics and principles is perennial, but it has become a bit more exacerbated with the war on terrorism.We rally behind More since he stands up for conscious. It is an interesting dilemma, since we might criticize him for not being more vocal or proactive in his stand against the king, but More does say that God made "man to serve him wittingly, in the tangle of his mind! If he suffers us to fall to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand our tackle as best we can. . . But it's God's part, not our own, to bring ourselves to that extremity! Our natural business lies in escaping!" (p. 126)The best plays are the ones that make you think yeas after you experience them. This is Bolt's spell, and we can never escape.This is almost a perfect play. The only flaw is that More ends up with the best one liners, while the antagonists Henry VIII and Cromwell have lifeless lines without the wit and sparkle speeches that Bolt have given to More.One of the intriguing aspects of this play is all the subplots, or rather, ripples across the ocean of events. These sub-plays augment an already powerful story, and help bring more light and detail to the story.One ripple is Richard Rich. He is a young man with burning ambition. More wisely counsels him to become a teacher, instead of involving himself in affairs of court. Rich ignores the counsel, gets caught up in the sausage-machine of state, and eventually perjures himself in More's trial. More did not have a price; Rich's price was Wales.Henry VIII is another backgound mover, and the driver of the events in the play. He wants an heir, but at what price? The dynastic wars had just been settled, and his line was established, but he had no heir. Harry VIII was a bit of a playboy like Harry V, but Harry V eventually grew up. Henry VIII went to every extraordinary extreme to have an heir, from marrying his wife, to divorcing his wife, establishing a new church to soothe his conscience, and finally sanction the death of his one and only loyal friend. His price was his pride.Another sub-ripple was the romance between Margaret More and William Roper. Thomas was, of course, a staunch Catholic, but Roper was a new Lutheran, and there was religious tension. Thomas forbade his daughter Margaret from marrying Roper until he returned to Catholicism. Two characters were almost ignored in the play: Wolsey and Alice More, but I guess that you can't have everything in a two-act play. Sigh!The 1966 film adaptation left out another sub-plot Senor Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador. Since Katharine was from Aragon, Catholic Spain had quite an interest in having the first marriage remain in tact.Aside from reading a histor

An Excellent Literary Experience

I am currently reading A Man For All Seasons as a school project, and I am enjoying it more than any other book that I have read in school. This play is an incredible work of art that thoroughly and accurately depicts the personality and moral values of Saint Thomas More, the man who was "the King's good servant, but God's first". Sir Thomas More became King Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor under one condition: that he be left out of "The King's Great Matter", which, if you didn't know, was the King's conflict with the Pope over his desired anullment from Catherine of Aragon. However, Henry is not satisfied with this, and he is determined to have a blessing of his marriage to Anne Boleyn from Sir Thomas. More, however, is a devout Catholic, and he believes that Henry's anullment from Catherine was not valid, and his morals will not allow him to bless the King's marriage. In hopes of forcing More to agree with him, the King administers an Oath claiming that he is the supreme head of the Church in England, and that Anne Boleyn's children would be the heirs to the throne. Sir Thomas refuses to sign the Oath, and, after spending almost 2 years in the Tower of London, is beheaded. A Man For All Seasons is a great play, for it really shows the reader the kind of man that Sir Thomas was. The other characters are also well written (particularly Sir Thomas's daughter, Margaret). If you are a drama fan, history buff, or someone who likes to read books with great moral substance, A Man For All Seasons is the book for you.

a vital example to all mankind

The basic facts of this story are surely well known. When Henry VIII unexpectedly became heir to the British throne upon his brother's death, the Pope made a special dispensation to allow him to marry his brother's widow, the politically desirable Spanish princess Catherine. Later, when Queen Catherine failed to produce a male heir for King Henry and as she became increasingly plain and more deeply religious, Henry sought to have the Pope nullify the marriage for the very reason that it violated Christian law for a man to marry his brother's widow. Sir Thomas More resigned his post as Lord Chancellor of England in 1532 because of his opposition to Henry's plan. Henry having taken England out of the Catholic Church and established the Church of England with himself at its head, Anne Boleyn was crowned his new Queen in June of 1533. Henry passed the Act of Succession in March 1534, which required all who should be called upon to take an oath acknowledging the issue of Henry and Anne as legitimate heirs to the throne, and to this was added a clause repudiating "any foreign authority, prince or potentate". More was summoned on March 14, but refused to take the oath and was sent to the Tower of London. He was indicted for treason in July and at trial solicitor-general Richard Rich testified that More had denied Parliament's power to invest Henry with ecclesiastical powers. Despite More's denial of the statement and his avowal that Rich was a perjurer, he was convicted and was beheaded at Tower Hill on July 6, 1535. For his willingness to be executed rather than renounce his oath to the Pope and the Catholic Church, Thomas More became a martyr and was eventually sainted. Protestant England became the greatest nation on Earth and developed the political, religious and economic institutions upon which all successful modern nations are based. Robert Bolt's great play presents in simple, unadorned scenes, the dilemma of a man of conscience and serves to remind us of how rare and valuable such men are in every age. Bolt's More argues that a man who will sacrifice his conscience has lost something central to his being: When a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water....and if he opens his fingers then--he needn't hope to find himself again... And in the play's greatest passage, he argues for the centrality of the law, over and against men, in the governance of human affairs, when his family wants him to have the disloyal Rich arrested: Wife: Arrest him! More: For what? Wife: He's dangerous! Roper: For all we know he's a spy! Daughter: Father, that man's bad! More: There's no law against that! Roper: There is, God's law! More: Then let God arrest him! Wife: While you talk he's gone! More: And go he should, if he were the Devil himself, until he broke the law! Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law! More: Yes! What would you do?

A witty, engaging, morality play. Brilliantly written.

Please don't make students read this book! Being part of an assignment is enough to ruin any literary work for the reader, no matter how great. I first read this play while in Grade 10 (two years ago), without being forced, and I relished every word from beginning to end. It was so engaging and enjoyable that I couldn't put it down, and I actually laughed aloud and cried several times while reading it after classes and on the bus. This play got me interested in Renaissance English history, and I have learned a lot since then which I can relate to characters and events in A Man for All Seasons. There is the criticism that Bolt made Sir Thomas unrealistically good and considerably more tolerant than he actually was, but Bolt admits this himself in the introduction included with the edition I read. In this play, historic events and of Sir Thomas More's personality are taken and molded slightly to provide a demonstration of one's man dedication to his faith and his conscience. The dialogue is brilliant, the characters are well realized (within the heroic structure for which Bolt was aiming), and--despite what some may consider a boring premise, certainly not me--the plot and issues are fascinating. It really made me think, and I've come back and read it several times when I feel like I need an idea to ponder. A marvellous play to see performed as well, especially when there is a very capable actor in the title role.
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