A Man for All Seasons written by Robert Bolt is a play about a man, Thomas More, who lives by his beliefs and eventually dies because of his beliefs. The play has a simple theme, played out through a few main characters. Rich’s character and personality prevent More from being successful. The first appearance of Rich in the play happens right away in the first scene. This is the first time you get to see his personality. Rich and More have an argument, as to whether every man is capable of being bribed.
Rich believes that money, status or women, can bribe anyone. More doesn’t agree with him completely but is intrigued with his belief that a man can be bought with materials. Rich is referring to the fact that he has read Machiavelli, which More later teases him of. Machiavelli’s morals are different from More’s. More admires his private conscience above things like personal advancement, but Machiavelli gives advice about the opposite. Rich’s reference to Machiavelli seems to show that he and Thomas Cromwell will spare no one to achieve success later in the play.
At the end of the scene More tells the duke that Rich needs a job, but that he doesn’t necessarily recommend Rich, which displays More’s view of Rich. More is a well respected man, so his opinion on someone would be a valid one. Right from the beginning of the play you can see the difference between Rich’s and More’s characters. More obviously cares for Rich’s well being. Rich’s lust for power and wealth in the end gets the best of him and any kind of guidance or advice given from More is ignored. It’s interesting to note that More does care for Rich.
In his interaction with Rich in the first scene, More teaches by testing Rich by offering him the goblet, letting Rich know that the goblet was a bribe and is therefore ? dirtied’. More understands Rich’s faults from the beginning of the play, but he tries to nurture Rich anyway. This is another excellent example of More’s superior character. It’s unfortunate that Rich eventually perjures himself to sentence More to death. A Man for All Seasons focuses on Rich’s rise in status almost as much as it does the fall of More.
More and his beliefs get him death, while Rich gains greater status and more and more wealth, at the cost of his friend More. Throughout the book you can see Rich fall deeper and deeper into his own loss of innocence. At the end of Act One, Rich and Cromwell are having a conversation. Cromwell offers Rich the job as Collector of Revenue in return he wants information about the goblet given to him by More. Rich ? laments’ that he has lost his innocence, “I’m Lamenting. I’ve lost my innocence (44).
” The scene seems to show that Rich has sold his soul to the Devil. In this scene Rich isn’t entirely sure about what he is doing which shows that at this point there is still some humanity left in him. The final fall of Rich’s character occurs at the end of the play when Rich takes the stand at Mores trial. Rich is asked to testify about his conversation with More before the trial on what More’s stance was on what the King was doing. Rich says, “Parliament has made our King Head of the Church. Why will you not accept him?…
Then he said parliament had no power to do it (94). ” By perjuring against More he has pulled the final straw and officially hands himself over to greed and lust for power. More’s standout character is shown once again when he says to Rich, “In good faith, Rich, I am sorrier for your perjury than my peril. ” In the end for perjuring against More Rich is given the job of attorney General of Wales. Throughout the play we see the fall of Thomas More and the rising of Rich. The contrast of Rich’s gain in status and Mores loss of status, really makes the play.
It seems that the author doesn’t try to make his characters stand for anyone thing in particular, but in Rich’s case he is a symbol of the tendency to surrender to the temptation of wealth and status. Throughout the play you never get any real depth of Rich as a person. This seems to be what the author is trying to do because Rich works as a perfect contrast to More without taking anything away from More’s character. Without the contrast of Rich’s character we wouldn’t get to see who More really is. Rich’s character shows us all what impact money and status can have on us.