Friday, September 2, 2016

Idle reflections on Robert Bolt's A Man for all seasons

Last night I stayed up late watching 'A man for all seasons' on Turner Classic Movies. The movie is an adaptation of Robert Bolt's play of the same name which was a set text for my A'level literature class a decade ago. The play is about Thomas More, Lord Chancellor to King Henry, the eighth. He was put to death for being true to his conscience(even under the most trying and unjust persecution) and denying that Henry's second marriage was legitimate. His opposition to King Henry marrying a second wife was out of religious (catholic)conviction. As chief counselor to King Henry, it was expected that he would go along with all the 'kings's men' and rubber stamp the decision to allow Henry a second wife even when it contravened the legal, religious and moral norms of the time. It is utterly amazing how much more meaning and thematic relevance I can now derive from a text I read as a boy to pass my A'levels. Having seen a bit of the world and known how incredibly trying it is to remain true to one's conscience, I appreciate Thomas More's example even more. The price of a life of convenience is a dearly expensive. As a secondary school student one often asks why they are 'forced' to read certain set texts. But yesterday, the answer came through. Some literature texts are an education in character. Being steadfast in upholding your virtues amidst trials and tribulations. Being loyal to truth and justice even at the cost of one's own life. How many times to we fail this test?, in our daily lives, at work, at home, in politics? Thomas More was truly 'A man for all seasons'. He was true to his convictions and beliefs in all the seasons of his life,when he was a great man and when he was banished from office. He never,even once, flinched when he was unjustly imprisoned, tried under sham charges,isolated from his friends and family and even when he was sent to the gallows. He believed in his heart that Henry's second marriage was a nullity and no amount of persecution would bring him to see matters differently. He spoke truth to power.

No comments: