A Man for All Seasons

by Robert Bolt

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How does the quote from 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 apply to A Man for All Seasons?

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

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Sir Thomas More's goal in life was to serve his God and his king. After the death of Cardinal Wolsey, More is named to the position of Lord Chancellor - a position of considerable importance and influence in the court of King Henry VIII. In this position, More has responsibilities to the king and others in the government and his advice carries significant weight. More enjoys the benefits of this position, commenting after a particularly pleasant meal that, "We shall be living on that 'simple supper' of yours for a fortnight."

However, More always puts service to God before service to the king, which is his downfall. He doesn't seek out conflict or disagreement with King Henry's request, but he cannot agree with or support the annulment request that he interprets as going against God's law. He is willing to do "whatever can be done by smiling," but insists that, "The service of God is not a dishonour to any office." Right to the end, he puts his faith in remaining true to his beliefs regarding God's laws, thereby winning the respect of many others and a beheading from King Henry.

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