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A Man for All Seasons

Page history last edited by Monica 11 years, 11 months ago

 

 

Here is an extract of the play "A Man for All Seasons", which was adapted to the cinema by director Fred Zinneman. In this scene, sir Thomas More receives the visit of Richard Rich, a man seen as dangerous and opportunist by More's family. He then talks about his belief in Law. You can watch the clip here.

 

 

STEWARD Master Rich is here, Sir Thomas. (RICH follows him closely)

 

RICH Good evening, sir.

 

MORE Ah, Richard?

 

RICH Good evening, Lady Alice. (ALICE nods, noncommittally) Lady Margaret.

 

MARGARET (Quite friendly but very clear) Good evening, Master Rich. (A pause)

 

MORE Do you know- (Indicates ROPER) William Roper, the younger?

 

RICH By reputation, of course.

 

ROPER Good evening, Master.

 

RICH Rich.

 

ROPER Oh. (Recollecting something) Oh.

 

RICH (Quickly and hostilely) You have heard of me?

 

ROPER (Shortly) Yes.

 

RICH (Excitedly) In what connection? I don't know what you can have heard- (He looks about; hotly) I sense that I'm not welcome here! (He has jumped the gun; they are startled)

 

MORE (Gently) Why, Richard, have you done something that should make you not welcome?

 

RICH Why, do you suspect me of it?

 

MORE I shall begin to.

 

RICH (Drawing closer to him and speaking hurriedly) Cromwell is asking questions. About you. About you particularly. (MORE is unmoved) He is continually collecting information about you!

 

MORE I know it. A MAN (STEWARD begins to slide out) Stay a minute, Matthew.

 

RICH (Pointing) That's one of his sources!

 

MORE Of course; that's one of my servants.

 

RICH (Hurriedly, in a low voice again) Signor Chapuys, the Spanish Ambassador

 

MORE -collects information too. That's one of his functions. (He looks at RICH very gravely)

 

RICH (Voice cracking) You look at me as though I were an enemy!

 

MORE (Putting out a hand to steady him) Why, Richard, you're shaking.

 

RICH I'm adrift. Help me.

 

MORE How?

 

RICH Employ me.

 

MORE No.

 

RICH (Desperately) Employ me!

 

MORE No!

 

RICH (Moves swiftly to exit; turns) I would be steadfast!

 

MORE Richard, you couldn't answer for yourself even so far as tonight. (RICH exits. All watch him; the others turn to mom, their faces alert)

 

ROPER Arrest him.

 

ALICE Yes!

 

MORE For what?

 

ALICE He's dangerous!

 

ROPER For libel; he's a spy.

 

ALICE He is! Arrest him!

 

MARGARET Father, that man's bad.

 

MORE There is no law against that.

 

ROPER There is! God's law!

 

MORE Then God can arrest him.

 

ROPER Sophistication upon sophistication!

 

MORE No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal.

 

ROPER Then you set man's law above God's!

 

MORE No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact-I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God . . .

(He says this last to himself)

 

ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he's gone!

 

MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

 

ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

 

MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

 

ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

 

MORE (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) 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-d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

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