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Awesome / A Man for All Seasons

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The play

  • More is on trial for refusing to swear an oath that recognizes King Henry VIII as head of the newly-founded Church of England and denies the authority of the Pope.
    More: I will not take the oath. I will not tell you why I will not.
    Duke of Norfolk: [the prosecutor] Then your reasons must be treasonable!
    More: Not "must be"; may be.
    Norfolk: It's a fair assumption!
    More: The law requires more than an assumption; the law requires a fact.
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  • In response to Lord Thomas Cromwell, the judge who has allowed in perjured testimony in his trial for treason against the king, More says What you have hunted me for is not my actions, but the thoughts of my heart. It is a long road you have opened. For first men will disclaim their hearts and presently they will have no hearts. God help the people whose Statesmen walk your road.
  • Then, this exchange with More's former friend, Richard Rich, who has just perjured himself on the stand:
    More: I have one question to ask the witness. [Rich stops] That's a chain of office you are wearing. [Reluctantly Rich faces him] May I see it? [More examines the medallion] The red dragon. [To Cromwell, the judge] What's this?
    Cromwell: Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.
    More: [Looking into Rich's face, with pain and amusement] For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales!
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  • There is also an exchange between More and his own son in law, William Roper:
    Roper So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
    More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    Roper Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round against you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man's laws, not God's – and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake!


The film