• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11

Have decided to explore how Bolt uses the Common Man to emphasise the features of the major characters

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The significance of the Common Man in 'A Man For All Seasons.' I have decided to explore how Bolt uses the Common Man to emphasise the features of the major characters and to illustrate the main themes of the play. I will also explore the role the common man plays in the structure of the play and his effect on the audience. The Common Man is the only character who speaks directly to the audience, which I think is important as it means they can feel part of the play: there is interaction between the audience and actors. This communication may increase the enjoyment of the audience as they are more involved with the production and is different to watching a drama or film on television. As Bolt says in the preface, 'The Common Man is intended to draw the audience into the play, not thrust them off it.' The fact that he is the only character that speaks to the audience means he can introduce them to the characters. (Eg: when the audience first sees More, he says 'that's Sir Thomas More') Although this is a very simple function it is important to eliminate any confusion the audience may have. This direct communication also means that he can make judgements on other characters. In the first scene as the steward, for example he observes that Rich will 'come to nothing' and that Thomas More 'will be out of practice' when someone asks him for something he wants to keep. These judgements provoke the audience to agree or disagree with him and therefore increase their involvement in the play. In this case, both the Common Man's judgements are proved wrong: as the play progresses we learn that Rich eventually becomes Lord Chancellor and when Thomas More is asked to give up his sense of right and wrong, he is not out 'of practice' at keeping what he wants, as he chooses not to accept the King's divorce and give up his conscience. ...read more.

Middle

Exaggerated pleasure.) Why it's Sir Thomas More! In contrast, More treats the boatman in the same way he treats Cromwell- there are no indications of any changes in character. The boatman's language in this scene is especially significant to the major themes and plot: 'People seem to think boats stay afloat on their own sir but they don't, they cost money'. I think this is a metaphor for the situations in More's life. From the outside it may seem he lives a comfortable life just as it seems the boats stay afloat on their own. However, the play shows that More faces problems, which ordinary people did not always see. For example, in the previous scene, the audience would have witnessed the private conversation between More and Wosley, where they expressed conflicting opinions of the political situation of the time. In the1530s people were intent in ensuring the Tudors stayed in power as they had ended the wars of the roses and brought peace, this is Wosley's argument for the divorce of king Henry and Catherine of Aragon. More , however comments that Anne Boleyn 'is not his wife.' The boatman also makes the comment that the river is 'silting up', but with a 'deep channel' in the middle. The 'silting' seems to represent the fact that at that time in England, things were not running smoothly and mirrors the major problem Thomas More faces: Catholic king henry wanted a divorce from his wife, who was too old to have children, to produce a male heir. However, the Pope would not allow the divorce, which Henry was intent on receiving. The deep channel could represent the fact that Thomas More is 'getting out of his depth' by opposing the divorce, predicting disastrous consequences. This image of deep water is repeated in scene six, when the common man bribes Chapuys and Cromwell: 'The great thing's not to get out of your depth.' ...read more.

Conclusion

In one ending of 'A man for all seasons', the idea that evil is allowed to thrive is highlighted by the fact that Cromwell and Chapuys link hands and laugh at the end. Even though they were not friends throughout the play, their laughter here illustrates that the common man has allowed their evil to flourish, making it easier for them to create it- (rather rueful laughter of men who know what the world is and how to be comfortable in it) In the alternative ending, the Common Man ends the play by saying, 'if we should bump into each other, recognise me.' This quote is ironic, as it would be impossible to recognise him as he has played so many different roles. However, in most of these roles he has shown fundamental features such as dishonesty and has allowed evil to prosper. If the Common Man represents 'what is common in us all' then I think Bolt is trying to tell us we should recognise our own and other people's moral weaknesses. This is why it is important that that the Common Man shows familiar characteristics during the first scenes of the play. The Common Man also states in this final scene that it isn't difficult to keep alive, perhaps suggesting that staying alive isn't worth the guilty consequences? Overall, the Common Man is significant in terms of emphasising character and theme within the plot. His major role in the final scenes of the play is to show the audience that they are morally significant in their daily lives. He reminds the audience to stand up to people who have power and listen to their consciences, as they see the consequences of not doing so, after watching Cromwell and Chapyus succeed. It is ironic that the Common man begins the play by stating he is not significant as he plays a direct involvement in More's death, along with the powerful people such as Cromwell. He mirrors the belief that Alice has: 'Colds affect great men and common men alike,' ordinary people are just as significant as the powerful. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Plays section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Plays essays

  1. A Man for All Seasons - "Richard Rich is a character to be pitied ...

    His horrified reaction to Cromwell's burning of his wrist suggests that Rich's flippant attitude towards using pain as a bribe would never be practised, as he is not violent enough - "You enjoyed it!" The majority of our sympathy for Rich is due to his dismissal by other characters.

  2. Discuss your ideas for staging the opening 4 scenes of "Our Country's Good" in ...

    The character of Tench has a lot of sarcasm and satire built into his role, so I would have him deliver his lines with a sort of pompous sneer. He does become irritating to all the characters and I would want this to become apparent through their reactions to his

  1. Examine Robert bolt's use of stage setting and the character device of the "common ...

    Bolt explores loyalty of the kings people throughout the play, one in particular Thomas More. Bolt explores the idea that society is always putting pressure on individuals, as an example Cromwell does in the conversation with Rich and himself. CROMWELL:" I think you'd make a good collector of Revenues for the York of Diocese.

  2. A Man For All Seasons.

    essaybank.co.uk wwcd cdw escdcds aycd cdba ncd kccd cduk. wwcg cgw escgcgs aycg cgba ncg kccg cguk; wwaf afw esafafs ayaf afba naf kcaf afuk. wwaa aaw esaaaas ayaa aaba naa kcaa aauk. Throughout the play Bolt lets us think that More is going to be all right defeating Cromwell�s

  1. A Man for All Seasons.

    The relationship that best displays More's adamantine sense of himself, is with his family. Bolt presents More's family as inquisitive about his work - "what did he want, Thomas?" yet More will tell them very little for his and their protection - "silence is my safety under the law, but my silence must be absolute, it must extend to you."

  2. Looking at the trial and execution of Sir Thomas More, how do Robert Bolt's ...

    the events after Sir Thomas More's death before it happens in the play. This is important as the audience are being told the end of the play and the events that took place in reality after the play as finished, before the end of the play itself.

  1. A Man For All Seasons

    is proven true for all the characters, especially for the Common Man and Sir Thomas More. The Common Man, shows himself time and again that he truly serves one master and that master is himself; whereas with More attempts to serve two masters.

  2. How is the Common Man presented in A man for All Seasons?

    The fall of man was the effect of the reduction of the original sinner, which is represented by the Common Man in this play. The use of the Common man is also used in another theatrical device called Epic Theatre, also introduced by Brecht.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work