Thomas Cromwell.

Essay by dakillerfishyHigh School, 10th grade October 2003

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Thomas Cromwell was "the bad guy" in Robert Bolt's play, A Man For All Seasons. Cromwell wasn't the official bad guy, he was simply a servant for the king. However, he did lack a conscience and was probably the most dislikeable figures in the story because of his position. It was Cromwell's job to ensure that the king could live life according to his personal desires, comfort, and convenience. In a sense, Cromwell is similar to almost all the main characters, the common man, Richard Rich, and Norfolk

Cromwell and the common man are very similar. Both come from very modest upbringings and tend to only look out for themselves. At first, the common man plays people who serve the nobles, like Matthew and the boatman. The common man basically plays the fool that all the nobles pick on and use for information. Later, the common man does immoral things, like betraying his master, but justifies them by saying that he needs the money.

On the other hand, Cromwell does immoral things because it his job, but doesn't feel the need to justify them. He also doesn't appear to care about his immoral doings and seemed to revel in them.

Cromwell and Richard Rich are also very similar and are arguably the two most unlikable characters. Both Cromwell and Rich are foils off More's character and enable us to see the compassionate soul the More really is. At first, Rich is friends with Thomas More. However, driven by his own selfish desires, he ends up being friends with Cromwell. In the end, Rich is influenced by Cromwell to commit perjury in order to get More convicted. Cromwell, unlike Rich and the common man, however, shows no signs of regret and shows no indication of overcoming his narrow perspective.

Lastly, although Norfolk and Cromwell are on almost complete opposites of the spectrum, they do have a little in common. Both admire Thomas More for his wit, but Norfolk is actually friends with him, and Cromwell is far from it. Both Norfolk and Cromwell admire Thomas More, and want him to take the king's oath and continually plead with him to just forget his conscience and take the oath. People could make the case that Cromwell didn't like Thomas More and wanted him dead, but that simply is not true. It didn't benefit Cromwell to have More put to death, in fact, Cromwell even said he admired More.

To be perfectly honest, I liked Cromwell. He isn't some one-dimensional bad guy who only exists to make life miserable for Thomas More, the tragic martyr. He didn't even want More to die, but it was Cromwell's job to ensure that the king could live life according to his personal desires, comfort, and convenience. Cromwell was dislikeable, but like the common man, he was only doing his job.