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Free Study Guide for A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt

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The scene is the Tower of London. There is a large crowd to witness the beheading of Sir Thomas More. The Common Man is now the headsman.

Norfolk offers Sir Thomas a goblet of wine, but More refuses.

Margaret runs to More, repeatedly calling “Father.” He tells her to be patient and accept his death.

The woman who years earlier tried to bribe him with a cup runs up to him. He reasserts that his judgment was correct.

Now Cranmer follows him, but More tells him to go back. He tells Cranmer that he has sent him to God. Cranmer remarks on how sure of going to heaven More seems. More takes off his cap, revealing his gray hair, and tells Cranmer that God would not refuse someone so happy to see him.

The lights go down, there is a loud sound and the headsman’s job is over.

The headsman quickly turns into the Common Man who comments that everyone is breathing and isn’t that wonderful. He says that staying alive can be done by avoiding trouble. He tells everyone to recognize him when they see him.


There is a great throng of Englishmen viewing the execution. They are excited. They are much like the Common Man. They go along with the rulers of the kingdom and by doing so they get along. They want what their king wants. They do not want to do anything to displease their king. So, they vent their feelings against those that the king is against.

One has to wonder why the woman who gave Sir Thomas the cup wants his attention now. Does she actually think that he will “confess” to giving her a wrong judgment? Sir Thomas would never confess because he would never give a wrong judgment.

Cranmer is envious of Sir Thomas’ certainty regarding going to God. We know from what the Common Man read to us at the beginning of Part Two, scene seven that Cranmer will be burned alive approximately twenty years later. One wonders what he will expect when his time comes.

The Common Man gives us suggestions for living like he and his characters live. We should not make trouble. That means that we should allow those in power to do as they like and just stay out of the way. The Common Man seems very shallow when compared to Sir Thomas More.

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