(Quietly) I neither could nor would rule my King.
(Pleasantly) But there’s a little . . . little, area . . . where I must rule myself. It’s very little—less to him than a tennis court.
(Act One, scene seven)
More speaks these words to his wife, Alice, following King Henry’s visit to their home. Alice urges More either to rule or be ruled, but More argues that he will allow himself to be ruled, except in matters pertaining to his conscience. We often find More desperately searching for a loophole in some act or oath, and at such times we may wonder whether this moral man is trying to skirt the issue. This statement of More’s reveals that he is not really an idealist. Unlike Roper, More does not do things just because he believes in them but because, as he says, his conscience believes in them. He does not try to prove a point or to be a hero, but there are certain points he feels he cannot concede without sacrificing his own self.
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