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Corruption in A Man For All Seasons Essay


Corruption in A Man for all Seasons

Corruption is defined as giving or obtaining advantage through means which are illegitimate, immoral, and/or inconsistent with one's duty or the rights of others (Business Dictionary). It has revealed itself many times through history - one of the biggest political figures was Hitler. He became popular by brainwashing the citizens into thinking that he could change the economy if they elected him to power. When Hitler was elected into office, he began to rearm Germanys military. This caused the Second World War, bringing about great change. During the time of the war, Hitler exterminated hundreds of thousands of Jews. Hitler believed that by killing the Jewish people, he was cleansing Germany and restoring it to its intended status. He also displayed corruption by writing a book titled Mein Kampf, which included the history of the Nazis party, as well as how to obtain and retain political power and how to use propaganda and terrorism.

Corruption within a government occurred long before Hitler, as for example in the reign of King Henry VI. The story of King Henry interested a playwright, Robert Bolt. Bolt wrote a play, A man for all Seasons, concerned with one event in his reign which changed the course of history in England. The story revolves around one man, Thomas More, and the challenges he faced while keeping his moral values intact, but. three men show their corruption in A Man for all Seasons and they are Thomas Cromwell, King Henry and Richard Rich. With the exception of Henry V11, these people achieve their positions of power by clawing their way to the top, by putting their opponents and enemies out of the way using various means. Henry uses his power in the same way.

Corruption within King Henrys reign starts with Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a man from the lower classes who makes his way to power through the Church using corruption. In the play, Cromwell demonstrates his corrupt thinking by convincing Norfolk and Rich that Thomas More is guilty of taking bribes, I have evidence that Sir Thomas, during the period of his judicature, accepted bribes (Bolt 99). Cromwell twists the truth to fit his own agenda, More did not realize that the silver cup was a bribe but as soon as he did, he gave it to Rich because Rich could use the money because he did not have a job.

Also, Cromwells does not listen to his conscience and has no morals as is shown when he helps Ann Borleyn (King Henrys second wife) rise in power and marry the King, only to engineer her disgrace and execution on charges of adultery, incest, and witchcraft (Thomas Cromwell Biography). Thomas Cromwell is not afraid to betray friends to gain more power. Cromwell is a self-serving man who wants nothing but power and to get close to the King Henry, for his own ends.

King Henry shows his corruption, in having his main objective in life is to obtain a male heir by any means possible. King Henry was married to Catherine of Aragon, who was unable to bear a male child. Henry, in common with other rulers of the time, did not like this and wanted a divorce but when the Pope refuses to grant the king a divorce, King Henry decides to leave the Church of Rome. He realized that the Pope would not grant him a divorce and there was no point in trying to convince the Head of the Church of Rome, which caused his eyes to open to the extent of his own power as the exponent of national antipathy to papal jurisdiction and ecclesiastical privilege; and his appetite for power grew (The Life of King Henry VII). Henry decided to create the Church of England, which was accompanied by the Act of Supremacy that states that Henry is the head of the church in England and not answerable to Rome.

The Act of Supremacy was the basis of the play, A Man for all Seasons. Thomas More, the main character in the play, would not sign the Act of Supremacy because he believed that the head of the Church could not be the king but the pope. By leaving the Church of Rome and authorizing the Act of Supremacy, King Henry demonstrates that he will do anything to get his male heir. He had six wives, the first Catherine of Aragon, the second Ann Borleyn, who was executed for adultery and treason; Jane Seymore gave Henry a son but died in child birth. With Anne of Cleves the marriage was annulled because Henry married her reluctantly on the advice of Thomas Cromwell. Then there was Kathryn Howard, who was executed accused of adultery and lastly Katherine Parr, who remained married to Henry until he died. During King Henry VIIs time on the throne, all he wanted was a male heir, to inherit the throne when he died. He did not help the country at all; Henry was too preoccupied with his wives and the necessity of having a male child.

A Man for all Seasons also focuses on the rise of Richard Rich, who gains more status and wealth as he sells out his friend and his moral values. Rich betrays Thomas More by giving Thomas Cromwell information about the silver cup that had been given to More, he does this in return for a job. Thus begins the loss of his conscience for Rich, and this seals his loss of innocence. The scene also suggests that he has sold his soul to the devil. In Mores court case, Richs testimony was the key to getting a conviction, and ultimately the death sentence for More. Five years later, Rich had a part in the conviction of Cromwell.

Rich only wanted one thing, power and money. In Parliament in 1539, Rich obtained a private Act (31 Hen. VIII, c.23) to assure him certain lands (Richard Rich Biography). Rich does not care whether he is betraying friends, as long as he gets the power and status that he wants. While Rich was a member of the Privy Council, he had to answer to charges of corruption for faulty drafting of indentures in exchanges of land and in sales of wood and lead (Richard Rich Biography). Also, while Rich was the treasurer for the French War, the king noticed that Richs earnings are 424,692, much more than acceptable. This leads to Richs resignation in November of 1544. Rich does not care about anything other than being rich, it doesnt matter whether it is betraying friends, stealing land or stealing money, Rich is an overall corrupt character.

A man of integrity was brought down by calculated self-interest on the part of Cromwell, the King and Rich, showing corruption throughout their history. They each have their own part in corruption of King Henrys monarch. The protagonist, More, stands up for what he believes and shows up the self-serving ideology of those around him. In spite of More's heroic reliance on what he believes to be right, the course of English history was changed in the establishment of the Church of England; just as the establishment of Hitler as Fuher changed Germany history in the 20th century. Just as Hitler, each man found a way to get what they wanted and therefore made history in a negative way. In conclusion, Bolt's play shows the conflict that can occur between principle and power.

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