Quote 4

And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
         (Act One, scene seven)

After Roper accuses More of respecting man’s law over God’s, More delivers this defense of his actions. Though More believes in the afterlife, he also recognizes that he has no right and no means to make judgments that are better left to God. More respects man’s law as the best available means of protecting against evil, even if it lets people like Rich off the hook from time to time. Bolt explains in his preface that he uses seafaring and water metaphors to signify the uncertainty of the great beyond, the moral universe that Roper aims to navigate. In this passage, More’s vision of a stable, lawful earthly existence is signified by images of the forest, and a lawless earth is signified by images of a barren wasteland.