A Man for All Seasons - 16th Century


The 16th century was a time of political upheaval, a time of conflict and corruption ? and a time of heroes? All these elements are visibly present in Bolt?s book, A Man for All Seasons. As I was reading this story I was thinking that it could probably apply to our day and age but that begged the question. Why did Robert Bolt decide to use a 16th century character rather than a present time period character and setting? I believe that Bolt chose this man and his era because there things that he liked abut the man, there was no shortage of conflict and the he was worthy of being a hero. He fits into one of the archetype heroes. These three things I will touch upon in my seminar and I hope that my ideas will prove to be informative and enlightening.

One of the main reasons that Robert Bolt probably chose 16th century Thomas More as his hero for A Man for all Seasons was that he liked his personality. By that I mean that as Bolt wrote about More, he discovered more and more things that he found admirable about the man. At the outset, Robert Bolt was looking for a person who had a strong idea of who he is because this is what Bolt thinks is necessary to be a hero and this is exactly the type of man that Thomas More is. More saw in himself something that was his only and he was that it was something that allowed him to live life with confidence in himself. Only when he was denied that way of life was he able to accept his fate of death. Robert Bolt comments on this on page 13 of the preface. "?who nevertheless found something in himself without which life was valueless and when that was denied him, he was able to grasp his death." This shows that Thomas knew that he had a sense of identity that no one else and he knew how important it was.

After Robert Bolt selected this man, he began to write and realised many more things about Thomas More, which had drawn him to the 16th century character. One of the things that Bolt found out was More?s sense of self. He remarks on this on page 12 of the preface. "At any rate, Thomas More, as I wrote about him, became for me a man with an adamantine sense of his own self." Robert Bolt went back to this era long past because of that trait but it was as he wrote about him that he discovered just how strong his sense of identity was.

But that was not the only reason that Bolt had for selecting a 16th century character as you can see when he writes, "Another thing that attracted me to this amazing man was his splendid social adjustment." That can be found once again in the preface on page 14. In the 16th century, many people were rewarded for how they knew because of the thick black line between the rich and the poor. If you were poor then you could probably pull a few tricks that would get you in well with the local lord and this improve your life. I?ll prove that in my next area of focus. Robert Bolt was fascinated by More?s ability to gain status through hard, honest work. He did not get to his position because of the people he knew but because of who he was and how hard he worked.

But you can not write a play on the excellent character of a man alone and this is another reason why Robert Bolt had to go all the way back to the 16th century. I believe he was also thinking of the setting. This is because the setting is actually a time of political and spiritual upheaval so there is a great deal of conflict for Bolt to make use of. King Henry was a king who abused his power so people had to make sure that they were on his good side, no matter what. Another reason was that More acted differently than everyone else; he believed that you had to earn your status. And the divorce, well, the divorce can be looked at as the King and the Church