Was Sir Tomas More's decision correct?
There are often many different ways to look at situations. Usually when situations are viewed from different points of view, differing opinions can be found. In A Man for All Seasons there are clearly a lot of opinions about More's silence to the oath required by the act of succession. In the play the church is represented by the Spanish ambassador. He interprets More's silence as a gesture of allegiance to the Catholic church and as a belief in the Pope's power. The state represented by the King and his followers are furious that More is not whole hartedly supporting him in his act of supremacy. Finally, More's family simply wants him to stay alive. Was More correct? Depending on which view point More's decision is looked at from, either the Church, the State or More's family there are differing opinions about his correctness.
In the eyes of the church More's actions, or lack of action as the case may be, was looked upon very favourably. Catholics believe that the pope has the power to make rulings on points of religion and morality. The pope believed that the state had no business meddling in the affairs and powers of the church. Thus when the Pope declared that the marriage between Catherine and Henry would stand, he was enforcing a law within the church that his followers would have to live by. Therefore from the point of view of the catholic church, which was represented in the play by Chapuys, More's decision was correct. For if one believes, as More did, in an everlasting sole and the catholic interpretation of life & death then you must believe that More did do the right thing. There for according to More's beliefs, he must be living in heaven while Henry and the rest of his followers are residing in hell for their sins.
On the other hand, when looked upon by the state More's actions constitute treason meaning he was undeniably incorrect. Henry believed that in all of his toiling to relive himself of Catherine in exchange for Anne he was acting on behalf of his country. He believed that in order for his line to continue he must have a male heir. He also thought that if there was not a male heir when he died there would be civil war. Henry's push to instate himself as supreme head of the church was in fact a way of protecting national security. Thus for More to stand in the way of the Kings attempt to prevent war, he was being treasonous and in the opinion of the state his decision was fatally incorrect.
More's family (mainly Alice) had a hard time coming to terms with his decision. Alice thought that her husband would be much more valuable to their family alive then as a marter. Her argument for More to take the oath is rooted in her belief that an oath is just words. To her keeping her husband was more important than words and their consequences. In wanting her husband to take the oath simply to save his own live and to save her family from sorrow she shows that she has not thought about the fate of his sole after death. Although she is a spiritual woman she was living in the now and not thinking about the after live which her religion predicts. In her heart Alice believes that More's decision is incorrect.
Different views do yield differing opinions about More's silence. The last opinion is from friends of more who try to urge him to save himself simply because every one else has. Norfolk does not use his own morals but instead chooses not to think about them and decided simply to follow along with the wave of others. Norfolk as well as the rest of the flock thinks More is incorrect. Again however, More's correctness all depends on from where the situation is looked upon.
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