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A Man for All Seasons written by Robert Bolt incorporates both language and action to convey meaning and to develop characters as a result. In this particular extract in which Cromwell, an enemy of More, has allowed More’s family permission to visit More. Robert Bolt using language and action in More’s interaction with his family More is developed as a man who is by his standards wrongly imprisoned and one who is conflicted by his actions being the product of choosing between God and family.
Robert Bolt commences the extract by Margaret’s vocative language interaction with her father, More. Using this interaction Bolt emphasizes how worn More has become over the past 2 years. Margaret’s language introduces irony to the extract, which introduces a mood of pathos to the atmosphere of the encounter in the prison. This idea of irony is introduced as Margaret and More exchange greetings by both repeatedly saying “good morning” to each other. This interaction provides irony, as indeed the morning is not a “good” one contrary to what they seem to portray. This irony further leads on to More’s worn well-being described as such by the modifier ‘aged’ presents More as being a man whom has endured great through many years further providing a foil in the form of literature to the ironic “good morning” said by both the father and the daughter.
Furthermore in this passage there is a development of falseness in More’s speech. This occurs when More states “it’s not so bad” referring to the condition of his imprisonment. This statement is key to More’s presentation as it shows how he tries to use euphemism to hide his psychological distress from his family. Saying that “[the prison] is not so bad” is too vital to More’s illustration as a person in conflict as it portrays More’s criticism of the society in the 16th century. This act of More suppressing his own experience from his family foreshadows further his speech dealing with his criticisms of the society in which he inhabits. More achieves this criticism stating that the prison is “remarkably like any other place.” Using this symbolic language More subtly describes the world as a prison itself, as the people’s rights are suppressed by traditional society enhancing More’s perception of the prison being “not so bad” as it is no different from outside the jail bars.
In addition, bolt’s presentation is further grown as the conflict between More and his family is introduced. This conflict between father and child is begun as Roper firstly begs with exclamation for More to “swear to the act!” and admits in the presence of Margaret that she is “under oath” to persuade More. Following this Margaret begins to try persuade her father by his own old moral standards against him, contributing to the idea of More being ‘aged’. Margaret says to her father that “God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words.” An emotional divide having been set between family More acts and defends his decision by elaborating how important an oath is to a man, determining their identity. This idea is illustrated by More’s analogy which states that “when a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water.”
In the summary of the extract More’s impact on his family is lastly enhanced. This enhancement occurs as it is acknowledged by Margaret the gap More is going to leave when he is gone, having understood that he will be executed for High Treason. Illustrating this incoming void Margaret says she has not told yet what the house is like “without [More]” and further asks “what they will [they] do in the evenings” when More isn’t there. More, having realized that his choice conflicts with his daughter’s views condemns her contrasting worldview and compare’s her foil in attitude with a torture device. He achieves this comparison by stating “The King’s more merciful than you. He doesn’t use the rack.” By this ending the extract at an emotional cliffhanger More is further presented as one who is conflicted by his own-made decisions made in the name of God.
A wide range of literary techniques are used in the works of Robert Bolt in the presentation of characters. In this extract Bolt uses to his advantage both language and action in that it is key in the development and emphasis of character, the atmosphere and mood which More creates by his desire to maintain a sound and conscious mind where he has to choose between his family (sacrificing his conscious mind) or what he believes as being the path of honesty in front of God.
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