A Man for All Seasons Essay

Submitted By cheeseboy888
Words: 984
Pages: 4

Topic #3- Pragmatism vs. Idealism The struggle between pragmatists and idealists in the governance of our lives and society is an age old one. Some governmental figures seeking favour from the electorate to form a government cast out idealistic thoughts. Other governmental figures use more pragmatic thoughts or ideas to win over their electors, in the hope that logic will win their support. However, this is nothing new in the realm of dealing with secular, governmental matters. Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons shows that it is incredibly difficult to govern oneself solely as an idealist or a pragmatist, both types of thoughts are valued when used sparingly. Some of the characters that demonstrate such lives of being too pragmatic Cardinal Wolsey, being too idealistic is Roper, and the perfect balance of both is Sir Thomas More. Being pragmatic in the governance of oneself can be good as one is using logic to govern oneself. However, if one is too pragmatic, one tends to be corrupt in action. A very evident pragmatic character would be Cardinal Wolsey who was the Chancellor of England before Sir Thomas More. As a Cardinal, Wolsey is more expected to be a idealistic person in the religious and secular way of governing England. One very evident example of Wolsey's pragmatic ways is when he asks More if he has his support on the divorce of King Henry VII and Queen Catherine. Wolsey asks if More would "like a country governed by prayers". It seems that More and Wolsey have switched places as statesman and minister of the Church. Wolsey demonstrates himself as a pragmatic also when he asks More " The King needs a son. What are you going to do about it?". Both of these quotes demonstrate how Wolsey has corrupted his way of life as a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, who should be agreeing in the Church's doctrine instead opposing it for a secular ruler. However, being too idealistic can be just as bad as being too pragmatic. Being a complete idealist can prove to become very dangerous as the ideas are very hard to attain. One very idealistic character in A Man For All Seasons is Will Roper, a rich, well learned lawyer turned politician. He is a very idealistic person in the sense of how he reacts to situations and also in his reaction to religion. He first is a staunch Lutheran when he confronts More on his Catholic views. Soon after that dialogue, Roper changes to become a Catholic, having cited that he was wrong before. In reality he abandoned his idealist thoughts of being a Lutheran in hope to use a pragmatic way to marry More's daughter, Margaret. Another instance where Roper has been too idealistic is when he suggests to More that he should tell the English people his perception of the divorce and rally support from the people behind him . More responds to Roper with a pragmatic thought that Roper is recently married with Margaret and they are bound to have a child very soon, Roper must be more pragmatic to protect himself and his wife. If Roper carried out on his second idealistic idea, the consequences could have been fatal for More or himself. This is because he is too idealistic to realize that his idea had violated the law of treason if he carried it out. Idealism can be valued if taken sparingly and when used with pragmatism is the correct balance, it can create a great character and actions from that person, one such as Thomas More. The character that shows that when pragmatism and idealism are used in a very careful balance, can prove good outcomes is Sir Thomas More (not regarding his execution). Sir Thomas More seems to put his spiritual life as his origin of idealist thoughts and secular life as the origin of his pragmatic