A Man for All Seasons

by: Robert Bolt

Richard Rich

Characters Richard Rich

Again, even though Bolt claims that he did not want his characters to stand for anything in particular, Rich symbolizes the tendency to succumb to the temptation of wealth and status. Rich is a Machiavellian hero, someone who seeks to advance himself politically and socially, whatever the cost. Despite his selfishness, Rich reveals his humanity when he wrestles with his own conscience while he sells out his friend More. In Rich’s awareness of his moral shortcomings, he is similar to the Common Man.

Like Cromwell, Rich serves as a foil to More, highlighting More’s superior character. Rich also illuminates More’s character in less obvious ways. For instance, in the opening scene, More tells Rich that he should be a teacher. More shows great interest in Rich’s moral fiber and wishes for him to quell his petty, self-interested urge to gain wealth and status. More’s conversation with Rich reveals More’s own interest in teaching as not just a profession but as something he himself practices throughout the play. 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 tainted. More understands Rich’s faults from the very opening of the play, but he tries to nurture Rich anyway. It is therefore tragic that Rich eventually perjures himself to condemn More to death.