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A Man for All Seasons | Study Guide

Robert Bolt

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A Man for All Seasons | Character Analysis


Sir Thomas More

More is intelligent, principled, and friendly. Bolt describes him as easily delighted, someone whose "life of the mind ... illuminates the body." He's a loyal supporter of King Henry VIII and committed to the Catholic faith. More values his principles, conscience, and selfhood highly. As a lawyer he has unwavering faith in the legal process, a faith that eventually causes his downfall. More's convictions and stubbornness frequently frustrate those close to him.

The Common Man

The Common Man is sly and witty, with a "crafty, loosely benevolent" face. He wears a simple black outfit with different hats for the different roles he plays. He looks at the characters objectively, trying not to favor one over the other. Bolt intends the character to be someone the audience can identify with, displaying traits "common to us all."

Thomas Cromwell

Cromwell's a shrewd and competent "intellectual bully." He's frequently condescending, especially to people he considers his inferiors. He'll commit "gross crimes" to protect himself or to keep the political machine running smoothly. His hunger for power and prestige keeps him close to the king. He sees More's popularity as a threat and works to defeat him.

Richard Rich

Rich is unhappy and "hounded by self-doubt." He feels life hasn't given him his due. He initially values More as a mentor, but he later sees that Cromwell will give him more prominent career opportunities. Rich slowly becomes more corrupt with each promotion, eventually lying on the stand at More's trial.

Duke of Norfolk

Norfolk is athletic, outgoing, and patriotic. "Conventional duty" is important to him, and he obeys the king just because he's the king. Norfolk values his friendship with More and resists participating in More's prosecution. He and More fall out when More accuses him of religious apathy.

King Henry VIII

Henry is enthusiastic, emotional, and proud and enjoys showing off. Bolt calls him "the monstrous baby whom none dared gainsay." His inability to produce a male heir makes him feel desperate and guilty. He won't tolerate any challenges to his power. Although he values More's honesty, he punishes More for not approving his divorce.

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