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A Man For All Seasons Essay

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Introduction

A Man For All Seasons Act II Scene 8 (The Trial Scene) The trial scene is the climax of the play, everything the rest of the play has been leading up to. In another story, this would be the most furiously paced and relentless section of the prose, and whilst this is admittedly somewhat true here, the fact the audience know of More's fate from the start of the play changes its complexion. The scene encompasses a clashing of two opposite consciences, in More and Rich, as well as two opposing ideologies, in More and Cromwell. The scene quickly devolves into a battle of words rather than moral stance, but is effective in its attempts to captivate the audience. The overriding message of this section of the play is that, even with the now very real (and, for the first time, very present) threat of death hanging in the air, More still has the integrity and conscience to stick to his beliefs and serve his God. The character himself is inspirational since very few people who ever read or see the play will act in a similar manner - most would opt to save themselves well before this order in proceedings is even in sight. This scene is probably the most interesting in the play in terms of the volume and impact the stage directions have on the events. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that Rich has to commit the 'holy crime' (lying under oath) in order to finally suitably incriminate More is testament to More's self-assurance and complete faith in his religion and his God. The final betrayal of More, at the hands of Rich's false testimony, leads More to a final grimace of pain, as he comes to the realisation that Rich has sold his soul not for the whole world, but for a post of meagre power. "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales!" This highlights how saddened More is by this final betrayal, and this is very effective in the scene as a whole as it illustrates how More's 'acquaintanceships' become his ultimate downfall, no matter how many he tried to sever (like Norfolk's). The Common Man has a seemingly docile and benevolent role to play in the drama up until this scene - from this point onwards, the intention of the playwright to install the Common Man as a person who will go out of his way to save himself, even at the expense of great men such as More, as well as liken him to the audience themselves. The fact that the roles that the Common Man begins to take become increasingly more malevolent towards More, from the completely innocent boatman, through to the jailer, foreman of the jury and eventually even the executioner in the next, conclusive, scene, shows this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Without Rich's false testimony, the sheer difference in thoughts and motives would have resulted in complete stalemate. The amount of fruitless bargaining from one side to the other, despite the clear iron-clad resolution that both sides hold, is interesting to witness. Cromwell in particular never gives up on convincing More to sign the document, despite how staunch More is in defending his position. In fact, in a final section of the court scene, Norfolk gives More one last chance which he totally rejects. "...I am empowered to tell you that even now - No no. It cannot be." The sheer volume of rhetoric from either side shows just how the case has already been decided and there is little need for deliberation. This is interesting and the playwright seems to wish to highlight how unnecessary the entire scene is made, and how pointless a court system is when the decision has been made behind closed doors. The court scene of 'A Man For All Seasons' is interesting in that it offers a multitude of insights into a couple of the most interesting characters in modern written drama. The characters of More, Cromwell and Rich all have very intriguing nuances in their characterisation that make this scene, and its setup as a clash of, in particular two, heavily opinionated and heavily driven characters. In terms of logistics, this scene depicts a realistic court of the time superbly, but beneath the surface of it lie some of the most contentious issues - and most intriguing characters - in the modern English language. ...read more.

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