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Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons

969 words - 4 pages

Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons"

In the play, written by Robert Bolt, 'A man for all seasons' the
Common Man is a very important character and also a very important
part of the play, not in the plot but in the way the play has been
presented, he is both a narrator and a role player who makes the play
more interesting and separates it from reality. The Common Man also
introduces some of the ideas from Bertolt Brecht's work. The idea of
the Common Man is a rare and rather unusual one. Robert Bolt used him
intentionally to be like no other character in his play.

One of the distinctive functions of the Common Man is obvious from his
name. The word, 'common' meaning, 'common to us all.' Everybody in the
audience should be able to relate to him. The Common Man plays a very
plain and simple man and he sustains this through all his roles,
especially the Boatman, who when asked to describe the life of a
boatman says, 'its common.' We see the boatman as a typical hard
working man as he talks about the strains of his job, 'from Richmond
to Chelsea, downstream, from Chelsea to Richmond, upstream..' Yet this
character is still able to make a joke about his wife to show that he
is not bitter. The boatman is also the first to introduce the motif of
the river, water imagery in the play. This involves the members of the
play using the characteristics of water and portraying them into their
own lives, an example being society figures as dry land.

Throughout all the roles played by the Common Man, including the
Steward, Boatman, Publican, Jailer, Foreman of the jury and a
Headsman, he will always express a similar attitude, the attitude of
the 'plain and simple man,' as the jailer says. The speech used
amongst all the different roles is similar, 'it's a job, they take a
rather common type of man.' He doesn't want people to think of him as
an upper class, like most of the other characters, he stays himself,
being ordinary. The Common Man uses slight wit and shrewdness, 'The
likes of me can hardly be expected to follow a man like that!' This is
where we see that the Common Man is also likely to be used to add
humour, which is often course, 'show you something of my own.' The
audience are able to laugh at other characters with him.

We see that the Common Man has an intention to stay well out of
trouble, to save his own skin. Again, he communicates this within his
roles. An example is the Jailer, who refuses to let More's family stay
any longer. Although we can see he wants to, he sticks to his orders
to prevent any trouble for himself. The Common Man tries to save
himself again as the Foreman of the jury, who can see it's obvious
More should be let go innocent but doesn't want to get on the wrong
side of the King by displeasing his wishes, instead he brings a guilty
verdict to stay in the clear.


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