Conscience in "A Man for All Seasons," by Robert Bolt

Essay by /user/15828High School, 11th gradeA+, September 1996

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Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines conscience as 'the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or good. In "A Man for All Seasons," each character's conscience plays the ultimate role in the outcome of the story. 'Individual conscience' is trait that each character possesses. This trait differs in intensity throughout the play in each of the main characters. Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII show their unchangeable conscience, by their actions. More refuses to accept the King's divorce of Catherine, and marriage to Anne. The King appoints More to Lord Chancellor, hoping to persuade Sir Thomas to accept his marriage. King Henry wants everyone to accept his divorce. He believes he is right for going against Pope's ruling, and he wants all his royal subjects, and men of popularity to accept his decision.

This is the King's 'individual conscience' talking. He fears that without the acceptance from Thomas, Lord Chancellor, that he has made God angry, and he will pay for his unsupported decision.

Sir Thomas More was the only character that believed and stuck with his conscience, by doing so, it cost him his life. Sir Thomas was a very prominent member of the King's council, he was the only member whom did not take bribes to sway his decision. Sir Thomas had always trusted in his conscience. He believed that the right way, and God's way lies in the conscience. Sir Thomas was separated between church and state, and he stuck with his decision. The King liked More, he liked him so much, that he promoted Sir Thomas to Lord Chancellor. This decision was also to help sway More into accepting his marriage to Anne. However, when the...