The most important instance of Henry needing moral affirmation comes when he demands More’s approval of the divorce and marriage because More is reputed to be a moral man. More’s honest reputation means that his consent could prove the king right; his lack of consent could prove the king wrong. Bolt suggests that Henry needs More’s approval for private as well as public reasons. Henry’s immature, insecure temperament suggests he needs More to ease his own guilt. This idea is supported by Henry’s comment that it will be fine if More simply keeps quiet. The comment suggests that Henry needs More’s approval more for the calm it will give his conscience than for public opinion.

The exchange between More and Roper reveals the seriousness with which More does his job. More tells Roper that he must watch what he says and remember that More is now chancellor. The play as a whole criticizes people who claim that they are just doing their job as an excuse that allows them to justify behaving in an immoral way in order to gain advancement. More shows there is nothing wrong with devotion to one’s employment, as long as doing one’s job does not violate one’s conscience.

Imagery of land and water is used to illustrate the difference between More’s law-abiding nature and Roper’s religious idealism. In praising the law, More compares it to a forest, which is sturdy and provides protection. He says that England is planted “thick with laws from coast to coast—Man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down . . . d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?” More emphasizes the inconstancy of Roper’s idealism by calling his morals “seagoing principles,” invoking the image of the shifting and unstable sea to stress the dangers of looking to God, the unknowable, as a moral guide. More wishes to rely upon what he knows to be certain and what he can perceive here on earth. He believes in God, but he does not pretend to understand God, except as God is manifest in human laws and justice.