A few of the many qualities of friendship include unconditional loyalty, honesty, trust, and respect. In the play A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Bolt, Sir Thomas More demonstrates all of these qualities that display friendship, and the basis of a good, honest man. Richard Rich, on the other hand, contributes very contrasting views and displays little to no qualities of friendship or loyalty at all.
Sir Thomas More may be considered a true friend and good, honest man due the fact that he uses qualities of loyalty, honesty, trust, and generosity with whomever he is dealing with throughout his daily life. He clearly demonstrates his loyalty to both God and the King, Henry VIII, simultaneously without infrinding on boundries between them. The whole play shows More’s loyalty to God, ultimately he died for his beliefs because they were not accepted. His loyalty to God is shown by his decision to remain Catholic and true(in his mind) to his God, though his King was creating a radical new Anglican religion. He disagreed with the King’s decision to go against the Catholic church, but kept his opinions silent except towards his ruler out of respect and loyalty. His loyalty to the King is also evident when he uses his judgment and chooses not to open the letter he received from Chapuys, for fear that his devotion to the King would be brought into question, “…This is a letter from King Charles; I want you to see it’s not been opened. I have declined it. You see the seal has not been broken?…”(Page 64)
More’s trust in the King is evident because he is confident that the King will not pressure him into making any judgment he is not comfortable with, “…Your conscience is your own affair; but you are my Chancellor! There, you have my word-I’ll leave you out of it. But I don’t take it kindly, Thomas, and I’ll have no opposition!…Lie low if you will, but I’ll brook no opposition- no words, no signs, no letters, no pamphlets – mind that, Thomas – no writings against me!”(Page 31).
More is a generous man, for instance giving Rich the silver goblet. More knew if he kept it, it could be used to incriminate him in the court of law. He could have sold it, but instead gave it away, out of kindness and generosity. More’s giving attitude was also demonstrated when he offers Rich the teaching position.
Richard Rich is everything that More is not. He is mercenary and defines himself by position and possession rather than in his morals and values. Rich cares little for friendship and loyalty, and cares only for personal gain and profit.
He is mercenary because everything he does involves some result that will promote him. He is always putting his needs and wants before the needs of others. More offered Rich an honorable and respectable job as a teacher, but Rich refused it because he believed it was meaningless and unimportand, and there was no chance at making substantial amounts of money with it. It would not improve his social status as much as he desired. Rich was using More to gain position, he feigns loyalty and friendship towards More for personal gain.”…A friend of Sir Thomas and still no office?”(Page 3). Rich will not admit to being More’s friend, even when More is on death row. He does not acknowledge or want to think that More helped him out at all, he turns his back on him and lets him dies, “He isn’t really my friend…”(Page 21). He does not acknowledge or want to think that More helped him out at all.
Rich defines himself solely on material items than the things that should be important to him, such as friendship, love, family, belief, and morals. He will do anything to give himself a name. He betrayed his friendship with More to prosecute him by lying on the stand. This gave him the popularity he desired, and knew if More went down, he could gain position, therefore his loyalty to More was never prevalent. By Rich prosecuting against More and lying on the stand, he was appointed the Attorney-General for Wales, More was astonished that anyone could lie and only be appointed the Attorny-General of Wales, “For Wales? Why, Richard, its profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…But for Wales-!”(Page 95).
the book A man for all seasons