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English Literature A Man For All Seasons.

1178 words - 5 pages

When any piece of work is written a deciding factor is the context of the author. Also the context of the reader decides how they will perceive it. A Man For All Seasons written by Robert Bolt, is a play of the martyrdom of Sir Thomas More, later Saint. When reading a play one must consider the three contexts involved. The time of the writer, 1960's Europe. The time of the play, 1600's Europe. Also that of the reader and how living in a different era will affect your reading. An understanding of these contexts helps the reader to better appreciate the ideas explored in a text. Knowledge of the 1950's to 60's and the time of the rule of King Henry VIII are pertinent to understanding the ideas explored in the play. One cannot truly understand the ideals represented in the character of More without first understanding how other characters act as a foil to these ideologies.Knowing the context of the author is important when understanding the ideas explored in a text. Knowing the facts surrounding the writing of A Man For All Seasons helps us to understand the ideals of Sir Thomas More and Richard Rich. Rich is a foil to More's beliefs, he shows how he cannot be tested and will stand up to any authority for what he believes in. Bolt's preface calls More "a hero of selfhood," and the play seems to suggest that More defies definition along religious or ethical lines. This is very much the same as the "hippies" of the 1960's. The youth of England were revolting against authority. This is alike to Bolt's representation of More and the way More chooses his beliefs and sticks to them. More's strong belief that "When a man takes an oath, he's holding his own self in his own hands" is much alike to the individualism displayed by the hippies. In the 1950's and 60's there were people that stood up for what believed in, yet there was not many religious people and so there wasn't anybody in Bolt's time that would fit More's character very well. The 1950's and 60's were a time of rugged individualism, people like Elvis Presley were making a stand against authority and the youth were putting away materialistic desires to the baser things of like, such as nature. Richard Rich symbolizes the human tendency to succumb to the temptation of wealth and status. Rich was using More to gain position, he feigns loyalty and friendship towards More for personal gain. "A friend of Sir Thomas and still no office?" (Page 3). Rich will not admit to being More's friend, even when More needs him most, like at his trial. "He isn't really my friend..."(Page 21). He does not acknowledge or want to think that More helped him out at all, he turns his back on him and lets him die. The 50's were a time of much war, many people killed and tortured others for personal gain, the character Richard Rich is a portrayal of these real life problems. By understanding the context of the author, the influences and movements of their time, we can further our understanding of the ideas explored in the...

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