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A Man for All Seasons

Themes

Main ideas Themes

The Self and Friendship

Through its depiction of More’s personal relationships, the play examines the extent to which one can be true to oneself and a good friend to others. Above all, More looks inwardly for his strength and comfort. He appears to be more of a teacher than a friend or a lover. He relies on his own conscience as his guide, and through tests and through the example he sets, he attempts to teach others to do the same. However, More’s instructive instinct results in relationships that are not overtly heartfelt.

One could also argue that More shows his friendship and love by teaching others. The play shows that More’s self-reliance is not completely incompatible with friendship and love. In More’s conversations with Norfolk and Alice, he shows that he truly cares about them as his friend and wife, respectively. More tells Norfolk to “cease knowing him,” but More argues that he gives his instruction because of the friendship the two men share. He tells his wife that he could not die peacefully if he knew that she was still confused about why he remains silent and does not give in to King Henry. More also tells Matthew that he will miss him.