Quote 5

All right, so he’s down on his luck! I’m sorry. I don’t mind saying that: I’m sorry! Bad luck! If I’d any good luck to spare he could have some. I wish we could all have good luck, all the time! I wish we had wings! I wish rainwater was beer! But it isn’t! . . . And what with not having wings but walking-on two flat feet; and good luck and bad luck being just exactly even stevens; and rain being water—don’t you complicate the job by putting things in me for me to miss!
          (Act Two, scene two)

When More lets Matthew go, he tells him he’ll be missed, but Matthew is skeptical. Matthew sees no reason for More to miss him and resents feeling he has to worry about personal relations and responsibilities, particularly those regarding his boss. Matthew has spent the entire play acting for his own financial gain, accepting bribes for information on More and others. More’s suggestion that they share a bond of friendship makes Matthew feel guilty for how he behaved. Matthew disregarded his conscience, the very thing that More refuses to do.

Throughout the rest of the play, the Common Man (who plays Matthew and many other characters) becomes more directly involved in More’s undoing—as jailer, juryman, and ultimately, executioner. Bolt suggests here that the Common Man could be any of us just doing our jobs. In a world that celebrates history as a series of trends, we should all accept personal responsibility and pay attention to our consciences, even if we feel there’s nothing we can do.