A Man For All Seasons – Character Analysis of Thomas More
Thomas More is the character that has been chosen for the purpose of this analysis under Dr. Kohlberg’s Moral stages of development. Under the description of the six levels of development one can easily identify Thomas More as an individual who has transcended to the 6th and final level of morality as defined by Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development. Through an analysis of each individual level this paper will identify how, using textual references, Thomas More has transcended beyond each level of moral development, concluding with an analysis on specifically how one can identify Thomas More as an individual that has reached the ...view middle of the document...
This stage of development though identified as a preconventional stage in moral development, is identifiable and common with the nobility, and most characters in A Man For all Seasons. Individuals such as Rich, and even Roper, are willing to defer to another and base their moral values on the values that will earn them favour (Margaret’s hand in marriage), or rewards (Rich’s promotion). Thomas More is offered much by the king, rewards, titles, and the favour of the king himself. He however, demonstrates that the basis of his moral values do not lie in rewards an favours, but rather transcend beyond that.
“Sir, come out! Swear to the act! Take the oath and come out!” (Bolt 82)
It is Roper’s statement that allows readers to be exposed to Thomas More’s level of moral development. Roper informs Thomas that if he is willing to swear, than Cromwell will let him out, an exchange of favour in return for Thomas More’s obedience. Yet Thomas does not base his actions on self-need, and denies this offer by Cromwell quite adamantly as could be seen by his responses to Margaret and Roper.
Stage 3: Good Boy/Good Girl Orientation
It is a well known fact that in the time of Thomas More, even with Magna Carta, the contempt of the king was essentially the contempt of the state. To be held in disdain by the king, was to be held in disdain by the nobles, and even the common masses. Thus moral values were often based on the approval of society, or more specifically the King. One would assume that as an individual, Thomas More would seek the approval of others in the establishment of his moral values – yet he does not. To further emphasis the point that his moral values are not established simply because of the approval of others, he even pushes Norfolk away and earns his disapproval due to his moral values.
“I cant relieve you of your obedience to the King, Howard. You must relieve yourself of our friendship. No one’s safe now, and you have a son.” (Bolt 71)
In an effort to follow his moral values, More understands that he will and has earned the disapproval of the masses, he is seen as a traitor and not a “good-boy”. In order to not only stand by what he believes in, but also to protect those around him he pushes Norfolk away – starting a quarrel for the sake of his moral values.
Stage 4: Authority and social-order-maintaining orientation
The king’s word is law, and the duty of any subject of the King’s court is to obey the King. According to stage four of Kohlberg’s theory, moral values are established by one’s orientation to show respect for authority and to maintain the given social order. The social order of More’s time was one that deferred to the King’s authority. What were considered good moral values were those that coincided with the King’s definition of good moral values. Yet once again, More shows that his basis for Moral Values do not lie in from this orientation, for his values are contrary to the values of the King.