Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thomas More, and all of us

Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons is one of the 20th century's great dramas, but if you've only seen the movie -- splendid as it was -- you really owe it to yourself to read the original play (or see it, of course, if you're lucky enough to have a production nearby). That's because the play included a very important character who was left out of the movie screenplay: us. The Common Man. The Little Guy who never sticks his neck out. 

I'll write at tiresome length about this at some later time, but for now, here's a snippet of dialog. The Jailer character is one of The Common Man's personae in the play, and he has just genially declined to undertake even a small personal risk to give the imprisoned Sir Thomas More five more minutes with his family.

JAILER (Reasonably)  You understand my position, sir, there's nothing I can do; I'm a plain, simple man and just want to keep out of trouble.

MORE  (Cries out passionately)  Oh, Sweet Jesus! These plain, simple men!