Free Study Guide for A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt|
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Then, Chapuys, with his attendant, bids Matthew to approach him. Matthew tells him some unimportant pieces of gossip that are common knowledge. Chapuys gives him a coin and leaves.
Now it is Rich’s turn to get what information he can. Rich wants to know what Chapuys wanted to know and what Chapuys said. Matthew tells him and also tells him where Cromwell went. Rich becomes angry, thinking that Matthew thinks Rich wants to know where Cromwell went. To prove that he does not want to know, he leaves, going in the opposite direction.
It is now the audience’s turn to receive information from Matthew. He tells the audience that he gave Cromwell, Chapuys, and Rich no secrets about Sir Thomas. Everything he told them is common knowledge. But, they will think that it is special information not known to others. That way they won’t feel cheated.
Hampton Court, the setting for this scene, was and is an extremely important locale in English history. It is located on a curve of the Thames River. Cardinal Wolsey built the palace starting in 1514 after renting the land on which it stands. In 1525, after Wolsey disappointed him, King Henry the VIII claimed it for his own. All of Henry’s wives stayed there. And, all of his children, during their reigns, also stayed there. A new palace was built on the site in 1689. 1737 was the last year that the royal family made the palace their residence. Visitors are still welcomed there today.
This scene is a good example of the political happenings of this time period. Secrets, hiding, spying, bribery and lies were all part of the political game. And, the players seemed to expect their acquaintances to behave this way. Matthew seems to be selling secrets, but instead, is guilty of another crime common in this time, cheating. Matthew seems to be guided by his own set of rules. Although he does not expose secrets about his master, he does not tell his master that others are trying to find out secrets about him.
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Johnson, Jane. "TheBestNotes on A Man For All Seasons".
. 09 May 2017