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A Man for All Seasons

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A Man for All Seasons

ACT 1, SCENE 1

Conversation between Thomas More and Richard Rich.

RICH: Well there! 'A friend of Sir Thomas and still no office? There must be something wrong with him.'

MORE: I thought we said friendship...The Dean of St Paul's offers you a post; with a house, a servant and fifty pounds a year.

......................

RICH: It's hard.

MORE (grimly): Be a teacher.

This conversation, as well as the previous one, sets up the contrast between Sir Thomas More and Richard Rich which is prevalent throughout the entire play.

In this opening scene, Rich and More argue over whether or not anyone can be bought. While Rich believes "every man has his price", More refuses to agree

with the notion that everybody could succumb to the temptations of status, power, wealth and women, or the notion of suffering. Rich means to say that men

want to avoid suffering and are therefore attracted to the possibility of escape, and More instantly recognises this idea as one of Machaevelli's. As Machaevelli

is historically understood to have written on the government, and how putting political appropriateness above ethical issues and morality was the sensible

approach to be taken in aquiring status, Rich's corruptibility and the suppression of his conscience is foreshadowed in that Machaevelli's theories both interest

and attract him. More warns Rich of the temptation involved in aquiring a high-ranking job, and offers him an Italian silver cup. The silver cup symbolises More's

attempt to test and teach Rich, and is significant throughout the play as it represents the commencement of Rich's corruptibilty, which eventually escalates into

much more evil and immoral actions later on. The cup also represents the differences in principles and morailty between More and Rich. While More's principles

don't allow him to keep such a "contaminated" object, Rich jumps at the chance of receiving something so valuable for free.

In between this opening conversation with More and the next important step in Rich's complete loss of innocence, and More's own demise, a number of

changes occur in character relationships. Rich and Cromwell's relationship becomes closer and more valuable. More recognises this and assumes Rich no

longer requires More's assistance in aquiring employment. Rich objects to this, claiming he would rather work with More than Cromwell, however More again

refuses Rich a job as he is certain Rich is untrustworthy and to an extent, dangerous. This is obvious in that while More points out to Norfolk that Rich is in

search of employment, he does not "recommend" him. Matthew (More's servant and one representation of the common man), also predicts that Rich will

amount to nothing, but as we see later on, Rich's deception and lack of morality and principles ultimately, and ironically, gets him everything he ever wanted.

More talks to Cardinal Wolsey, the Lord Chancellor, who tries to convince him to approve of King Henry's divorce, but More believes the divorce is unacceptable

without the Pope's consent. Despite Wolsey's warnings of consequences associated with disapproval, More refuses to set aside his beliefs and conform,

giving a clear insight into his belief in staying true to ones self and not conforming to something you don't agree with out of fear. This persona of More

foreshadows his stance on events that come later in the play. More also refuses to allow Roper to marry his daughter Margaret due to Roper's dynamic

religious beliefs, labelling him a heretic, and disapproving of his inability to stay true to the English Church. Rich becomes Norfolk's secretary and librarian, and

Cromwell undermines him for this. Rich admits he isn't really friends with More anymore, which explains why he hasn't yet aquired a better job. However, when

Cromwell offers him employment he declines, showing that he isn't ready to become a walking representation of Machaevelli's theories yet, but later bribes

Matthew for information on More which undermines his morality once again. Chapuys and Cromwell also bribe Matthew for information, which shows how most

of the characters are immoral (especially contrasted to More) and highlights the difficulty More will face in his newly appointed position as Lord Chancellor.

After deceiving More, Rich attempts to convince More to give

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