Man For All Seasons

Neither Thomas More or the Common Man are able to serve two masters In the play

A Man for All Seasons by Roger Bolt, The Spanish Ambassador Chapuys says to

Steward, a role played by the common man, "No man can serve two
masters..."(Bolt, 24). Within the play this statement is proven true for
all the characters, especially for The Common Man and Sir Thomas More. The

Common Man, shows himself time and again that he truly serves one master and
that master is himself; whereas with More attempts to serve two masters. More
attempt to serve King Henry of England, and God. By the end of the play it is
shown that More cannot serve two masters despite all his efforts. It is apparent
within the play that the Common Man is serving himself as his only master and no
one else. In the play it may seem that he is not a self-serving character due to
the fact that he obeys what people tell him to do, for instance in his
conversations with Cromwell, and Chapuys, they ask him for knowledge about his
master, Sir Thomas More. Firstly Cromwell asks him information concerning More's
attitude towards the King's divorce of his wife the Queen. The Common Man
replies, "Sir, Sir Thomas doesn't talk about it...He doesn't talk about it
to his wife, sir...Sir, he goes white when it's mentioned!" Cromwell (hands
coin): All Right."(Bolt, 23.). Later with his conversation with Chapuys he
is asked about More's spirituality, "Sir Thomas rises at six, sir, and
prays for an hour and a half...During lent, sir he lived entirely on bread and
water...He goes to twice a week, sir. Parish Priest. Dominican..."(Bolt,

24). Chapuys then replies to the Common Man, "Good, simple man. Here.
(Gives coin. Going)..."(Bolt, 24). As you can see he does what he wants for
himself and no other especially divulging information for money. The Common Man
also only holds loyalty unto himself and no other. At the first sign his needs
will no longer be met to his satisfaction he leaves. For when More loses his job
and no longer has an income, the Common Man collects his belongings and leaves,
"Now, damn me isn't that them all over...I nearly fell for it...`Matthew,
will you kindly take a cut in your wages?' `No, Sir Thomas I will
not.'"(Bolt, 57). The Common Man is a very sly person, and holds nothing
back when it comes to him and a job. This is evident as he acquires a position
with Richard Rich, another very self- serving person by easily manipulating him.

Richard Rich had no inclination to hire the Common Man; he was manipulated so
well that the Common Man gets a job, "Oh. Oh, I must contradict you there,
sir; that's your imagination. In those days, sir, you still had your way to
make. And a gentleman in that position often imagines these things. Then when
he's risen to his proper level, sir, he stops thinking about it...Well - I don't
think you find people `disrespectful' nowadays, do you sir?"(Bolt, 61-62).

Now, Sir Thomas More, through out the play tries to balance his life between God
and King. More as he obeys God and King prays for his King, "Dear Lord give
us rest tonight, or if we must be wakeful, cheerful. Careful only for our soul's
salvation. For Christ sake. Amen. And bless our lord the King."(Bolt, 8).

To continue his service for both God and King, More is willing to sacrifice
everything if it will allow him to serve both; "There is my right arm. (A
practical position.) 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
conscience."(Bolt, 31). For in the play More is forced with a choice, to
either continue in his service to King Henry and go against the Catholic Church
or quite his job and continue in his service to the King, "If the Bishops
in Convocation submitted this morning, I'll take it off...It's no
degradation."(Bolt, 48). In the play the Act of Supremacy is passed. The
purpose of this act is to affirm that the King is the Supreme Head of the Church
in England. If More were not to swear to this act he would be committing high
treason against the King. Since More believes that he can serve two masters, he
roots through the act looking for a loophole. A loophole that will allow him to
continue serving his God and King.