Conscience is a judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he or she is going to perform. The definition of conscience is best portrayed through Thomas More. In the movie A Man for All Seasons, Saint Thomas More demonstrates his moral conscience in many ways. Saint Thomas demonstrates his moral conscience in a time when all others have given in to the pleasures, materialism, and corruption of this time. Saint Thomas is a character who puts away worldly possessions in order to serve God.
Saint Thomas More was a highly positioned judge and counselor in the court of the King. He later became the Chancellor of England. Saint Thomas was often tempted with bribes while acting as a judge. These bribes were to influence Thomas’s court ruling. Thomas was once given a silver chalice by a woman who hoped to sway Thomas’s court decision. Because Thomas care nothing about material possessions he gave it away to Richard Rich. Richard Rich was a young man who was looking for a court position. Thomas, however, had denied Richard’s recommendation because he felt Richard could not handle the temptations associated with political jobs. Also, Thomas does not allow Will Roper to marry his daughter because Roper had left the church to follow Luther. Later, when Roper views had chanced, Thomas grants Roper his permission.
Thomas was faced with these types of situations quite often, however, Thomas was faced with an issue concerning King Henry VIII’s marriage that was very immoral in Thomas’s eyes. King Henry wanted to divorce his wife who was unable to have children, and marry his mistress. This was because the King wanted a son to carry on his legacy. The King wished for Thomas’s blessings and approval. At this time Saint Thomas had been appointed Chancellor of England by the previous one, Cardinal Wolsey, who Thomas had moral differences with. Saint Thomas would not give in to what the King wanted. For this the King was very displeased. The King even went to visit Thomas, who lived across an enormous lake, in hopes that Thomas had changed his opinion concerning the King’s divorce. Of course Thomas had not. This made the King even more upset. Thomas decided to resign from his position as Chancellor of England for reasons that Thomas would not discuss with anyone. As watchers of the movie we are led to believe that it was because of his strong moral values. Thomas also suffers the loss of great friends over his beliefs. Even without Thomas’s approval King Henry goes ahead and marries his mistress. Henry claims that he is the head of the Church of England and that the Bishops must relinquish their loyalty with the pope. He does this by bribing and even threatening the bishops.
Later in the movie Thomas is interrogated by Oliver Cromwell. This man became the Chancellor of England after Thomas resigned. Thomas was questioned about a bribe that he was thought to have accepted. But actually Thomas had not. Time after time Thomas is asked to approve of the King’s marriage but Thomas always refuses for reasons that he will not tell. The King’s people are so disgusted with Thomas that he can’t even get a boat ride home and is forced to walk. Thomas is met by Meg who tells about an oath that is being but into effect. The oath would force everyone under the King’s rule to swear loyalty to the King. Of course Thomas would not take the oath. He is put into solitary confinement. (During this part in the movie the seasons go through one full cycle. This is why I think the movie is called A Man for All Seasons.) After some time Thomas is questioned and then thrown back into prison. Finally, he is taken out and but on trial for not pledging the oath of loyalty to the King. During this trial Richard is brought to testify against Thomas. Richard claimed that Thomas had made traitorous remarks regarding the King. With this Thomas is sentenced to death. Thomas finally proclaims why he had disagreed with the King’s divorce and the Church of England. His final words were: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s first.”
For Thomas More to stand in what he so strongly believed in is remarkable. Thomas M ore demonstrated such great fortitude. Even In the face of death Thomas would not give in to what was wanted of him. Thomas put his family aside in order to serve the Lord. Try to imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted as Thomas More did. It is safe to say the Saint Thomas More was truly a man for all seasons.