A Man for All Seasons Print
By Robert Bolt   
Tuesday, 09 August 2011

[Thomas More’s daughter and son-in-law visit him in the Tower of London]

MORE (Looks at them, puzzled) Well.

ROPER Sir, come out! Swear to the Act! Take the oath and come out!

MORE Is this why they let you come?

ROPER Yes . . . Meg’s under oath to persuade you.

MORE (Coldly) That was silly, Meg. How did you come to do that?

MARGARET I wanted to!

MORE You want me to swear to the Act of Succession?

MARGARET “God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words of the mouth.” Or so you've always told me.


MARGARET Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.

MORE What is an oath then but words we say to God?

MARGARET That's very neat.

MORE Do you mean it isn't true?

MARGARET No, it’s true.

MORE Then it's a poor argument to call it “neat,” Meg. When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. (He cups his hands) And if he opens his fingers then-he needn’t hope to find himself again. Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathe to think your father one of them.

MARGARET In any State that was half good, you would be raised up high, not here, for what you’ve done already. It’s not your fault the State’s three-quarters bad. Then if you elect to suffer for it, you elect yourself a hero.

MORE That’s very neat. But look now . . . If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all . . . why then perhaps we must stand fast a little – even at the risk of being heroes.

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