In A Man for All Seasons, which characters in the movie do you consider to be the most sympathetic and which the cruelest? Explain. How do these characters reflect the internal struggles they face and external struggles around them? (Is it only religion, or something else?)
I think that Thomas More is the most sympathetic character, while nearly everyone else is cruel in the film. More is the most sympathetic because in the film he is a force of constancy in a world where everything is mutable. More's tragic predicament is his commitment to his beliefs. His sense of idealism is in stark contrast to a world where no one believed in anything transcendent. For example, temporal considerations motivate characters like Cromwell and Rich. This love of politics, power, and/or control make them subvert More's position in the hope of consolidating their own stature. The film's depiction of More demonstrates the importance of not taking the form of the world around the individual and adhering to a level that is above it. Religion is a large source of the conflicts around the individuals, and, in particular, More. However, it is Bolt's genius to show that there is a universal condition in which individuals must navigate the conflict between their own subjective beliefs and those of the world as part of modern consciousness. The primary conflict boils down to one of the individual versus society, the power of right against the conformist and bullying crowd. This conflict manifests itself in all of the characters; how they choose defines the world and their place in it. To this extent, the struggles that the characters go through help to make their predicament a uniquely human one.
It is in this light that characters who embrace the world of society and its ways of intimidation can be seen as the most cruel. More is sympathetic in how he never wavers in his commitment to his beliefs. When he excuses his executioner, his final words reflect a commitment to duty and ethical conduct consistent with transcendental notions of the good: "I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first." More was "a man for all seasons" because his loyalty did not come with a price. He was not someone who could be bought off, persuaded, or bullied. Stubborn as he might have been, he is the most sympathetic character simply because he is the most courageous.