What is a concise summary of the first two acts in 'A Man for All Seasons"?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In 'A Man For All Seasons' by Robert Bolt, the first two acts set out the direction of the plot for the rest of the text. We are introduced to the scholarly Sir Thomas More, a politician and wise statesman. More has an issue with the King's plans to divorce his wife and marry another one - Henry V111 wants a son as an heir. Thomas More, reacts very diplomatically however and for the time being keeps his disquiet to himself hoping the king will get bored of the idea or forget about it so that More won't have to deal with the nuisance of it all.

A meeting is held with Cardinal Wolsey, another hugely important and powerful man (the Lord Chancellor.) Thomas reviews the letter to the Pope which asks for his approval to King Henry’s divorce plan and draws attention to the point that the Pope has already given 'a 'dispensation' or permission for King Henry V!!! to get married to his first wife because she, Catherine, was Henry's brother's widow. Thomas is dubious that the Pope will ever agree to overturn the initial dispensation. Wolsey however, tells More he is being overly moral and suggests a more pragmatic approach.

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