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Sir Thomas More The Martyr Essay

884 words - 4 pages

The definition of a martyr is a person who willingly suffers death rather than renounce his or her religion. When Sir Thomas More died in July of 1535, he became a martyr. In the play A Man for All Seasons, author Robert Bolt shows us his views on how More came to his death . In this play, Thomas Cromwell, Richard Rich, King Henry VIII, and Sir Thomas More himself are responsible for his death. Although it could be argued that many more people in Sir Thomas More’s life had a part in contributing to his death, these four characters had the greatest part in eventually bringing him to his death.
Some people may say that Cromwell and Rich were just pawns in the King’s plot, however they can’t possibly argue that they weren’t in control of their actions. Cromwell and Rich are essentially responsible for the final prosecution of More. Together, they are guilty of letting their inner want and need for power cloud their consciences, which led them to bring down a good man of Thomas More. More, being a smart man, could beat them in a court of law. Rather than fighting More with the law, Rich and Cromwell decided to break it. Rich lied under oath sending More to his deathbed, and he responded, “I am sorrier for your perjury than my peril”(156). Cromwell, in his quest for power, saw a doorway of opportunity where he could bring down More and in the process benefit his own social and economic status. As More stated, “Silence gives consent” (152) and Cromwell’s silence during Rich’s illegitimate testimony makes him an accessory to the crime and therefore just as guilty as Rich. Together, Rich and Cromwell are partners in the crime, whether they are accomplices to King Henry or for their own reasons. Either way, they are still responsible for their actions and the consequences of them.
In the play King Henry wants to divorce his wife to marry again, and he desperately needs Thomas More’s help. He feels that if More publicizes the divorce it would proceed without a great amount of public revolt as he is such a man of his principles and religion. He hopes that the people would see that if More is promoting the divorce than it must be acceptable. At one point in the play, King Henry tells More, “not to pursue me on this matter”(54), but after More accepted the position of Chancellor, King Henry began badgering him to help with the affair. Henry’s behaviour became more violent and intense towards More as he continually declines...

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