A Man For All Seasons: The Destructive Power of One's Morals
Values, virtues, and morals are often implemented in individuals as they grow up. However, how they are taken into effect and are followed varies based on personal greed. In the movie A Man For All Seasons, a screenplay written by Robert Bolt and directed by Fred Zinnemann in 1966, it is seen how someone can abide by their morals but can as easily be destroyed by them as well. Thomas More, a credible, wise, and candid man remained true to himself and to what he practiced and lived by. On the other hand, King Henry VIII, Rich, and the Common Man all chose to risk and throw away their principles merely for the sight of one goal. The cinematographic representation of More stays incredibly true to him both as an author and a thinker by demonstrating his duty to serve his country while remaining a foremost humanist in comparison to the other characters while remaining in an incredibly conflicting and difficult situation. Within the film, there are also important themes that come into play when analyzing and understanding More as more than just a character in the film such as moral guidance, the idea of the self and friendship, and corruption. The film does an excellent job at depicting More’s difficulty in displaying his upright morality in contradiction to his attempt in finding legal loopholes throughout the film.
While More disagrees with the divorce taken on by Henry, he refuses and strives to avoid speaking against the Oath of Supremacy. Similarly to More’s Utopia, the film showcases how he abides and respects God’s law above all but also believes in the idea that man’s law may occasionally contradict it as well to provide the best guide for society. In comparison to Rich and the Common Man, More often seemed practical while remaining true to his beliefs. More’s character often resembled a hypocrite merely because he was attempting to balance out his morals alongside is societal views. He follows the law in its entirety and in the end the prosecution deems it false charges. In More’s work there is the idea of moral consequence in which greed and pride shall be eradicated while novelty and useful knowledge were accepted and even celebrated. The cinematographic portrayal of More does not hinder or contradict that of him as a humanist and a thinker of his time.
It is even safe to say that it enhances his persona and give him the credit he righteously deserves. In addition to moral guidance, the film follows More and his relationships with the other characters which, as a result, shows how an individual can be true to their morals while remaining in good standing with the people they care about. While remaining good friends with those around him, More also relies on himself to serve as his guide. More’s relationship with those around him is one in which he serves as a teacher to those he cares about. By serving as an example, More hopes to teach others through his actions. His relationship, in a way, connect to the corruption that appeared in the film as well as concepts that are discussed in More’s written work. While More worked to teach, characters, such as Rich and the Common Man, were more concerned with wealth and reaching their goals.
An important scene that represents this is when More gifts the silver cup to Rich and proceeds to ask him if he will sell it. Rich responds by saying he will buy himself new clothing. This scene shows how individuals, who in this film eventually become corrupted by the idea of wealth and status, value their selfishness over anything else. The same idea is reflected in Utopia where More highlights the idea of a perfect society being one in which economic status is not important and everything was shared. The society was essentially kept together by commonality, perfect justice, and happiness. The film and the concepts about More that have been discussed very well go hand in hand and correlate. The virtues, beliefs, and actions that More executed in the film are quality representations of More’s ideas that are seen in his work such as Utopia. Essentially, More is a man who stands by his beliefs which are equally balanced by those of God as well as man and roll over into what his perception is of society and how it should be run.
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