In general, A Man for All Seasons argues against the idea that staying alive is the ultimate good. More’s life is his final and perhaps greatest sacrifice, but it does not compare to other characters’ sacrifice of their own selves and convictions. At the end of the play, the Common Man points out that staying alive is actually rather easy, but through his statement, the play implicitly implies that an immoral life is not always worth the guilt-ridden consequences. Moreover, the Common Man’s statement actually misquotes the biblical saying, “better a live dog than a dead lion” (Ecclesiastes 9:4). The Common Man’s mistake shows how he and others who live by this philosophy deceive themselves.

In his opening monologue, the jailer tells us about the historical fates of Cromwell, Norfolk, and Cranmer, implying that, at least in Henry’s court, a live rat is not always alive for that long. The information is important because it suggests that unsavory characters receive what they deserve. All of these facts about the eventual fates of the characters in the play should belong in an epilogue, yet Bolt inserts them just before the play’s climax. By including this recap of history, Bolt makes certain that we know what ultimately happens to the play’s antagonists as well as its protagonist, turning history into a sort of divine justice.