Free Study Guide for A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt|
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The author wrote Sir Thomas More as having an extremely strong sense of self. He could be moved and bent by family, friends and even enemies only up to the point where it intruded on his sense of self. To protect his sense of self, he was unbendable. What first attracted the author to Sir Tomas More was his capacity for living and enjoying life. Sir Thomas was indeed bendable in many areas. When he could not be bent was when he was required to state under oath something that he did not believe. Sir Thomas was very sociable, had many friends including many of the great thinkers of his age.
The sea and dry land are used as symbols for the superhuman context and for society with its shared shelter.
The style of playwriting that the author used was that of Bertolt Brecht. The author used Brechtís alienation technique to deepen involvement in the play. He had an actor address the audience in character instead of directly. The intention was to grab the audience and pull them into the play, not to alienate the audience.
The author found that some people took exception with the Common Man character, the one who speaks to the audience. They felt that it was insulting. Others felt that the Common Man was vulgar. The author claims that he wanted the Common Man to come across as attractive and having a philosophy with which it is hard to disagree.
The Common Man was in the theatre at times. The author heard him laughing in the gallery.
The preface was written after the play had been performed. It gives the reader or audience member who reads it only after reading or seeing the play a different slant on the play than he or she probably got from the play.
Much has been written about the reign of Henry VIII. The author tells us what we need to know to understand the play.
Following are a few tidbits of information to add to what the preface tells us.
Anne did not give Henry the son that he desired, but she did produce for him the next ruler of England. Anneís daughter, Elizabeth, was a very successful ruler even though she was a woman.
Henry felt that he was wrong to marry Catherine because she had been his brotherís wife. However, he saw nothing wrong with marrying Anne Boleyn even though he had had an intimate relationship with her sister, Mary.
Berthold Brecht, the playwright from whom the author mentioned borrowing, started the use of the alienation effect, which was supposed to make events on stage seem unfamiliar to the audience. Brecht did not want what happened onstage to be confused with reality. The audience was to remain alienated from the staged events. The author gave Brechtís ideas a twist. As he said, he wanted to pull the audience into the play.
After reading the play, and being exposed to the character of Sir Thomas More, it is difficult to understand the authorís use of the Common Man as someone with impregnable philosophy.
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Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on A Man For All Seasons".
. 09 May 2017