A Man for All Seasons Analysis

A Man for All Seasons Analysis
This is a reading Journal First thing to do is read the two guides attached (THIS IS VERY VERYVERY IMPORTANT). DO NOT TELL THE PLAY. DO NOT REVIEW THE

PLOT. tell what you think about the plot instead + what we learn from each part of it .
Please watch for grammar mistakes. This is all based on your opinion and what you think about the story. Read: A man for all seasons (by Robert Bolt) here

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=cG5kaHMub3JnfHNyLWNhdGhlcmluZS10aG9tYXMtb3AtdGhlb2xvZ3l8Z3g6NzYzNTg4ZjQ0YmFhMDQyOA

It is ok to use other online sources, but make sure to cite them. DO NOT QUOTE from the text. Use MLA style for citations. I will not accept incomplete

work or average quality work.

What to write in each page?

1) Use the first 2 pages to clarify the actions of the play using your own point of view.

2) In page 3 and 4 consider answering some of the most asked questions about the play. (Google questions regarding the play and answer them). I NEED

YOU TO PROVIDE ME WITH THE QUESTIONS THAT YOU ANSWERED IN THE ESSAY IN A SEPARATE PAGE.DO NOT COPY THE ANSWERS FROM GOOGLE. (Expressur opinion in the

answers)

3) In pages 5,6 write about what lessons did u learn from the play (in details).
Write a conclusion in page 6. The conclusion in the last page must represent all 6 pages.

Useful info provided by instructor:

An excellent study site for the play is immodestly but appropriately titled “The Best A Man for All Seasons Study Site.” Familiarize yourself

with Act I of this play of two acts. [The “Introduction” is helpful and can be used as well, and there are a couple of filmed versions available here and

there, but the web site alone should serve you well.] This site, particularly for the plan of the play and the historical background material, should be

helpful. In addition, I’ve attached a Henry VIII and the Tutors, a site useful for Henry’s background, as well as a series of key quotations taken from the

first act.

A Man For All Seasons

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”

A few words about the age in which this play is set:

Charles Dickens, the nineteenth century English novelist, began his famous novel about the French Revolution A Tale of Two Cities with the following lines:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was

the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Dickens, who published the novel in 1859, was, of course, writing historical fiction about political and social conditions in England and France

almost a hundred years earlier. However, his description could be aptly applied to many eras in Europe or America or most anywhere.
In fact, when might the world have ever been otherwise? At times, no doubt, it has obviously been even worse than Dickens describes – times of

devastating wars or plagues or other natural disasters – but never better. When one reads in the ancient writings about this or that “golden age” one

wonders whether the glories that such a label implies are anything more than the fruits of the imagination an overly enthusiastic historian looking back

to the distant past from the safety and comfort of his contemporary world..
The age of Thomas More and Henry Tutor, the age in which is set Robert Bolt’s great play A Man For All Seasons, was, of course, no exception. There was

indeed “the bests” and “the worsts” for it to consider, as we shall see.
In 1492, a year forever useful to us in getting our bearings, when the Roman Catholic Church, the dominant power in Europe, had become increasingly

corrupted and its social and political influence had begun to lessen, Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage westward from Genoa, Italy to what was

to become known as The New World.
In the spring of that year when the first buds of that great cultural blossoming to be much later known as The Renaissance were springing forth with the

season across Europe, young Thomas More was an English lad of fourteen and Henry Tudor who would later become the eighth of that name as King of England

was a toddler.
The early decades of the English sixteenth century that were to follow – much like the times Dickens described, or, for that matter, the ones in

which we live at the moment — would be dominated by the tragic interactions among these two great individuals and others that surrounded them.
In the end, neither would live to be 60. One would choose to be executed rather than compromise his moral principles; the other would die of the

most prominent social disease of the age. More would eventually be beheaded in 1535 at the age of 57, as a result of his conflicting views with Henry about

the nature of an oath, and Henry would follow twelve years later at the age of 56 in 1547 from the effects of syphilis. During his rein, there had been an

average of 120 executions a month in England.
A bit more than a decade after Henry’s death, his daughter Elizabeth would be crowned Queen of England. (Elizabeth was, incidentally, the progeny of

Henry’s union with Ann Bolen, the second of his six wives, who would eventually be beheaded for high treason,} On a more positive note: five years after

Elizabeth’s coronation in April of 1564, a son named William would be born to John and Mary Arden Shakespeare in Stratford – upon – Avon in Warwickshire.

“It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.”
The next great age of note, would be the age of Elizabeth, the Elizabethan Age, the age of Shakespeare and Drake and Raleigh who together would write great

plays, sail around the world, and settle the colony of Virginia in the new world that would become the United States of America.
Before this great age, however, the agony and the tragedy of the one that preceded it would have to be played out, and that is the substance of this play.
From the opening scene, we see the action of this play through the eyes of a versatile, fascinating, ever so human character called the Common Man. A bit

like the leader of the Greek chorus in Oedipus Rex or Antigone, – in the variety of roles he plays, from butler to jailer to executioner – his primary view

of the world tends to reflect our own, that quality, perhaps, most common to us all: the desire of “the simple man” just to make his way through the world

and stay out of trouble while doing so. Potentially heroic qualities such as “courage” and “loyalty” and “faith” and principles — in contrast to More’s

— do not overlap with the Common Man’s view of the world.
Although the Common Man’s roles in the play are never extensive, his character bestows upon and maintains throughout the play a thread of significance

important to Bolt in this play, as he notes in his “Preface” to this edition. More, in Bolt’s view, unlike most of us, had an absolutely clear

understanding of who he was in this world, “an adamantine sense of his own self”(x), confident, firm, unshakeable, and unrelenting. In contrast and unlike

More, says Bolt, most of us today “think of ourselves in the Third Person.” (xi)
While in the past, he says, societies have had clear models within which to place individuals, no longer. “We no longer have any picture of the individual

by which to recognize ourselves and against which to measure ourselves.” (xi)
He points us further into the conflicts and themes of the play with the following assessment of our age (at least the age of America in the early 1960s

when this play was first presented)::
“Socially, we fly from the idea of an individual to the professional describers, the classifiers, the men with the categories and a quick ear for the

latest subdivision, who flourish among us like priests. Individually, we do what we can to describe and classify ourselves and so assure ourselves that

from the outside at least we do have a definite outline. Both socially and individually it is with us as it is with our cities — an accelerating flight

to the periphery, leaving a center that is empty when the hours of business are over.
“That is an ambitious style of thinking, and pride cometh before a fall, but it was with some such ideas in mind that I started on this play.” (xi-xii)
Obviously, one need not absolutely agree with Bolt in these sentiments, but they do provide an instructive starting point for analyzing the play.
It should be noted that the critics struggled throughout the 1960s to explain the play’s tremendous success both on the stage and as a movie. Why would a

play about a martyred Englishman of the early sixteenth century so catch the conscience of an American public? Although there was never a clear consensus,

most critics felt it had something to do with the War in Viet Nam in progress at the time: something, but they were not absolutely certain what.
And so it remains. Where do we stand as individuals when confronted with the best and worst qualities of the social and political challenges that we

can’t easily ignore?
Who are we, and what do we stand for? Do we know? How “adamantine” is our sense of self?

An acceptable format for a reading journal should have the following qualities:

A. Although it certainly should include specific notes and details re the actual story, it should not be limited to a summary of the plot, i.e. what

happens in the story. Rather your reactions to those notes and details.

B. It should include your specific questions regarding the fragmented quality of the story, what isn’t clear and what’s left out, along with responses to

(if not potential answers to those questions). For example: the creation and the transformation of Enkidu is fascinating, as well as puzzling; but, so

what? What might this aspect of the story tell us about this most ancient tale — and our own past as evolving human cultures — specifically the examples

and characterizations of human feeling and behavior. Enkidu’s feelings? Humbaba’s true character? Saduri’s advice? Ninsun’s reaction to Gilgamesh’s

venture into the Cedar Forest?

C. It should include links or references that reflect some research into traditional commentaries or reactions to the stories. All critical responses not

your own should include links to their sources. The number available on the Internet re this story appear to be unlimited, and I’ve included several under

External Links.

D. As to it’s length: pages of electronically prepared posts somehow do not compare well to published pages, so length is going to depend on your ability

to be concise. However, even with concise paragraphs, there would have to be at least a half dozen significant posts — or what would be several otherwise

double-spaced pages of regular text. [A final note: we’re working with established Word texts, with it’s traditional rules, here. Not coded text

messaging. Spell-Grammar-Usage apps are recommended.]

D. Finally, though it might be posted in several parts as you move along through your study of the text, before it is submitted for a grade it should be

organized in a way that reflects your final “take,” understanding, or critical assessment of the text — just as you would do for a portfolio.

[Though you might work with your posts as a separate document and save it as a file, post it to the Journal site as text in some form of Word.]
Notes Regarding an Annotated Journal
These journals will be the most important reflection of your participation in this course. They should be maintained thoughtfully – and faithfully —

throughout the term as the course proceeds through the six primary readings.
Your journals should reflect the depth of your study of a reading.
They should include a variety of dated entries. For example: questions and reactions of the sort that you (in a “regular” class) might include in your

class notes or offer in class discussions; or a list of annotated links from the Internet and other sources related to your reading. They will represent

the most substantial part (45%) of your final grade. (If you submitted portfolios in high school, you might think of these as electronic portfolios.)
You can return to your journal at any time before the prescribed due date to add, remove, or revise your comments.
Your journal should reflect the degree to which you have given each of the readings a careful and critical assessment. At the end of each reading,

your final version of your journal will be deposited to the Reading Journal assignments on the Blackboard site as written text, not as a file, after which

they will be read and graded with comments and suggestions.
Such a procedure, I trust – though requiring some patient adjustments initially — will provide the greatest possible opportunity for what in a class of

this size might be called tutorials. They will represent the clearest evidence of your intellectual and critical assessment of the readings.
Although references to the characterizations and actions in a given reading might be briefly included, your journal should not be a summary of the plot.

Knowing the characters and what happens in a story is just the first step to reading it!
The precise format of your journal is left up to you so long as it is organized and consistent and includes the key elements listed above. I

envision its format as something like an expanded and reversed version of a Facebook layout that allows annotated external links, images, etc. . With luck,

at the end of the term, we can both review quite clearly your degree of interest and engagement in the course. I look for evidence in your journals that

you have carefully read the work considered and critically assessed it.
In the Syllabus I stated my belief that, given the Internet and the startling evolution of the Google World, you did not really need me. Students really

don’t need instructors or professors to the degree they once did. However, like the practice of yoga, academic study can obviously be carried out alone,

but such study tends to be more enjoyable and productive if engaged in with other common-minded individuals. So it often is with academic pursuits,

regardless of how informal they may be.

We find ourselves with an interesting relationship these days. You are at least “virtual” scholars , and I am a professed and paid “instructor” and

“coach” interested in assisting you and, if we get along well, enriching your academic endeavors.

The stated purpose of these journals is to provide a framework for a record of your intellectual and scholarly pursuits, evidence of the extent to which

you have been engaged in a study of the works being considered both in class and independently — evidence that will provide you with a record of serious

thought and will serve as primary evidence to support a grade for the course. Furthermore, I have emphasized my belief that all that you require — not

all that exists, of course — for a productive study of these works can be found on the Internet, thanks to the Google search engine.

What I post in “Weekly Directives” and what you might post to the “Discussion Boards” — while they might enrich your understanding of issues and ideas

related to the texts — cannot adequately substitute for independent research.
If you have not yet become convinced of the truth of the adage that in the final analysis one “gets out of an academic venture what one puts into it,”

perhaps this experience will, through its challenges and rewards, persuade you.
DPW
6.3.2014

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