1. Does every man have a price?
2. Private conscience vs. Public Good
The life and times of Sir Thomas More, an advisor to Henry the VII. He struggles with
granting Henry a divorce, and endorsing England breaking with the catholic church.
Water- Things taking place on the water are of a more superhuman context.
Land- Land represents reality and society.
The Common Man: The common man wears many different parts, and narrates part of the story
Sir Thomas More: Advisor to the King, writers, and overall moral man.
Richard Rich: Thomas' friend, who wants to be as successful as Thomas.
The Duke of Norfolk: Another of Thomas' friends. Norfolk puts more stock in physical
things, like hunting, than moral things.
Margaret More: Thomas' daughter, who is very educated.
Alice More: Thomas' wife.
Will Roper: Will always has different cause every week, and he thinks he believes strongly
in all of them. Is in love with Margaret.
Henry VII: The King. Henry breaks with the Pope over divorcing his first wife, Catherine.
Personal Reaction: (One Student Writes...)
I rather liked this book. It was interesting to read, especially if you know the history
behind it. If you don't know the history, I think it tends to make his book less
interesting. it doesn't move very fast, because it is tied up in the concerns of the mind,
rather than with action. But, I still think it was a very interesting read. My favorite
character was the Duke of Norfolk, because he seemed most life-like. I couldn't really
relate to More, because I simply wouldn't die to preserve my morality. I'm more like
Norfolk: I'd pretend to agree with the King to keep on breathing.
Common Man: It is perverse! To start a play made up of Kings and Cardinals in speaking
costumes and intellectuals with embroidered mouths, with me. (p3)
Steward: My master Thomas More would give anything to anyone. Some say that's a good and
some say that's bad, but I say he can't help it- and that's bad...because someday
someone's going to ask him for something that he wants to keep; and he'll be out of
More: There is my right arm. Take your dagger and saw it from my shoulder, and I will
laugh and be thankful, if by that means I can come with Your Grace with a clear
Norfolk: And who are you? Goddammit, man, it's disproportionate! We're suppose to be the
arrogant one, the proud splenetic ones - and we've given it! Why must you stand out?
(Quietly and quickly) You'll break my heart. (p122)
Common Man: Oh. "Richard Rich because a Knight and Solicitor General, a Baron and
Lord Chancellor, and died in his bed." So did I. And so, I hope will all of you.
More: The law requires more than assumption. The law requires fact. (p131)
More: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for not doing according
to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with
me, for fellowship? (p132)
More: Some men think the Earth is round, other think it flat; it is a matter capable of
question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round,
will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign. (p133)
More: Alice, if you can tell me that you understand, I think I can make a good death, if I
have to. (p144)
More: In good faith, Rich, I am sorrier for your perjury than my peril.
More: It is a long road you have opened. For first men will disclaim their hearts and
presently they will have no hearts. God help the people how Statesmen walk your road.
More: Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself Death comes for us, even at our
birth - even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks
towards us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh.
It is the law of nature, and the will of God. (p161)
Common Man: I'm breathing ... Are you breathing too? ...It's nice, isn't it? It isn't
difficult to keep alive, friends - just done make trouble - or if you must make trouble,
make the sort of trouble that's expected. Well, I don't need to tell you that. Good night.
If we should bump into one another, recognize me. (p163)