what is the fonction of the opening monologue in A Man For All Seasons?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The play opens with the Common Man speaking.  The stage directions describe him as “Late middle age. He wears from head to foot black tights which delineate his pot-bellied figure. His face is crafty, loosely benevolent, its best expression that of base humor.”  He also plays the role of Matthew, the Stewart to Sir Thomas More.  He opens the play calling attention to the theatrical quality of what the audience is about to watch. He points out that he will be wearing a costume, and in fact puts in on right then, making the comment that he could have gone on stage naked, that then we, the audience would have really seen something. He reappears throughout the play to comment on the action. In donning his costume on stage, he calls attention to the performance aspect of who we are, that what we understand as our “self” is a fashion we wear to suit the exingencies of the day.  This view is in stark contrast to how More lives his life, for to him conscience is all, which is why he dies a martyr.  He refuses to “put on” the ideas of the day and insists on being “naked,” acting upon his beliefs. More will not violate his conscience and dies as a result; the common man represents the sort of person who can change his "soul" to suit the situation and the times.

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Brave New World

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