Presentation on theme: "THOMAS MORE FROM SAINTHOOD TO A HERO OF SELFHOOD."— Presentation transcript:
THOMAS MORE FROM SAINTHOOD TO A HERO OF SELFHOOD
UNIT OBJECTIVES On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse, how a selected text constructs meaning, conveys ideas and values, and is open to a range of interpretations. An understanding of the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author and presented in the selected text; The structures, features and conventions used by authors to construct meaning in a range of literary texts; Methods of analysing complex texts and the social, historical and/or cultural values embodied in texts; The ways in which the same text is open to different interpretations by different readers;
Bolt’s Existential Streak I think the paramount gift our thinkers, artists, and for all I know, our men of science, should labour to get for us is a sense of selfhood without resort to magic. Albert Camus is a writer I admire in this connection.~xiv
EXISTENTIALISM Existentialism is a philosophical framework, or a way of looking at the world, that takes as its starting point, human existence.
EXISTENTIALISM The Existentialist Worldview Human Existence The Absurd Responsibility The Authentic Self Alienation
EXISTENTIALISM We will be looking at two types of Existentialism: A Theistic (God based) version – Kierkegaard An Atheistic version – Camus.
KIERKEGAARD 1813 – 1855 Considered to be the father of existentialism though was alive a long time before the term was coined.
KIERKEGAARD The question we must all face is: ‘What shall I choose to do with my life?’
KIERKEGAARD - The problem of uncertainty. The human predicament is that we are forced to make choices based on nothing that is certain. Our minds will not and cannot understand the mind of God.
KIERKEGAARD Believing in God required taking a blind leap of faith.
KIERKEGAARD Faith, for Kierkegaard meant experiencing God through relationship, rather than intellectually defining him from a distance. It involved a whole life commitment, not just an abstract belief.
MAKE THE LINK How does Bolt convey More’s view of God?
More’s relationship to God Oh Roper, you’re a fool, God’s my god…But I find him rather too (very bitter) subtle…I don’t know where he is nor what he wants. ~ pg 39
More’s relationship to God More’s trust, or faith in God is evident. When Wolsey asks him what he intends to do about the king’s need for a son (p.11), More responds that, he ‘pray[s] for it daily.’
More’s relationship to God Just as King Henry is about to arrive, More comes out of Vespers ‘wearing a cassock’ (26) ‘I am the King’s true subject, and pray for him and all the realm.’ (97)
More’s relationship to God Although God’s nature is not clear for More, he still believes wholeheartedly and with his whole life. ‘[God] will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to him.’ (p.99)
More’s relationship to God More’s steadfast belief in God and the way his faith is expressed is contrasted with both Roper and Chapuys. More’s steadfast belief in God and the way his faith is expressed is contrasted with both Roper and Chapuys.
More’s relationship to God While More’s convictions are deeply held and resolute, Roper feels the need to trumpet his views and considers gestures important. “Sir, you’ve made a noble gesture.” (p.55)
More’s relationship to God Roper is dressed in black and wears a cross The time has come for decent men to declare their allegiance! (47)
More’s relationship to God Chapuys’ religious beliefs are so intertwined with his politics, that the two are inseparable and indeed, his religiosity appears to be for show. Steward: He pulls to the front an enormous cross until then hanging at his back on a length of string – a caricature of the ebony cross worn by Chapuys. (p.24)
More’s relationship to God To some extent, it is this unshakable trust in God that takes More all the way to the executioner’s block. But this trust in God, is only part of the picture according to Bolt.
EXISTENTIALISM It wasn’t so much the trust in God that Bolt focused on. After all he was himself an atheist and the message that he wanted to convey to his audience went beyond religious conviction.
EXISTENTIALISM Camus believed that Kierkegaard’s Leap of Faith was not a real solution to the human predicament.
Existentialist Worldview Like Kierkegaard, he believed that the only way to get real understanding was through personal insight. (Not science)
Existentialist Worldview Through personal insight, we have the sense of being ‘thrown’ into existence.
Human Existence Human beings exist without justification. Life for us, is like the life of Sisyphus – utterly meaningless.
The Absurd What is ultimately absurd is the clash between ourselves and everything we deem important and an ‘indifferent universe’
The Absurd We are cast into the world, with no guidance, no rules, no instruction manual. There isn’t anything or anyone that particularly cares what you do with that life.
MAKE THE LINK How does Bolt present the universe in AMFAS?
THE TERRIFYING COSMOS I took [The Church of Christ] as a metaphor for that larger context which we all inhabit, the terrifying cosmos. Terrifying because no laws, no sanctions, no mores obtain there. ~ Preface (xv)
THE TERRIFYING COSMOS As a figure for the superhuman context I took the largest, most alien, least formulated thing I know, the sea and water. The reference to ships, rivers, currents, tides, navigation, and so on, are all used for this purpose. ~ Preface (xvi)
Despair It seems that one cannot respond to Camus’ bleak worldview without despair.
Despair But this, according to Camus, would be self- indulgent.
Radical Responsibility Since we are ‘thrown’ into existence in an ‘indifferent universe’, when we look to the path our lives can lead, our lives and futures are entirely open.
Radical Responsibility As such, we have radical freewill and responsibility for our own lives. Our own lives, or own selves, are, in a manner of speaking, all we have.
Radical Responsibility Thus, we have a radical responsibility to our selves - not to anyone else and not to society but to ourselves alone.
The Authentic Self The difficulty with turning this responsibility towards society is that we conform to public pressure and to society’s expectations for us and as such, do not live an ‘authentic’ life.
The Authentic Self This is why Bolt considers it important to define oneself intrinsically, rather than through external criteria and why ‘the self’ is so fundamentally important to him.
MAKE THE LINK In what way is More a Hero of Selfhood?
THE SELF Bolt admired More’s ‘adamantine sense of his own self.’ ~ Preface
THE SELF When Alice rightly assesses the King’s anger, she urges More to be ruled. More is loyal to his king until the wishes of his sovereign come in conflict with his self. “But there’s a little…little area…where I must rule myself.” ~ (p.35)
THE SELF So strong is More’s sense of self that certain actions are described as physically impossible for him to do.
THE SELF “I couldn’t find the other way.” ~ More to Alice p.34 “I can’t give in Howard – (smile) you might as well advise a man to change the colour of his hair!.” ~ More to Norfolk p.71
THE SELF For Bolt, The self, conscience, and one’s soul are largely interchangeable. ‘Very and pure necessity for respect of my own soul…Yes, a man’s soul is his self.’
OATHS There is a special relationship between the self and the taking of an oath. ‘When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water (cups hands) and if he opens his fingers, then – he needn’t hope to find himself again.’ (p.83)
OATHS To go against an oath, was to commit perjury. For More, this meant putting his soul in peril – it means damnation.
OATHS For Bolt, “a man takes an oath only when he wants to commit himself quite exceptionally to the statement, when he wants to make an identity between the truth of it and his own virtue; he offers himself as a guarantee…there is a special kind of shrug for a perjurer; we feel that the man has no self to commit, no guarantee to offer.” ~ Preface.
OATHS More had such a keen sense of self, in this regard, that his reputation extended throughout Europe. p. 32, 58
OATHS Bolt conveyed the strength of More’s sense of self by contrasting his attitude to the taking of oaths to others. Henry – Vowed that he would not involve More on the issue of the divorce. (33) Henry – Vowed that he would not involve More on the issue of the divorce. (33) - Act of Supremacy went against his coronation oath. Rich – Blithely commits perjury. Rich – Blithely commits perjury. Margaret – Takes an oath to make More change his mind. Margaret – Takes an oath to make More change his mind.
CONVENIENCE & CONSCIENCE To act according to one’s conscience is often inconvenient. “I’ve got an inconvenient conscience” ~ Roper
CONVENIENCE & CONSCIENCE Political expediency – Henry – Cromwell – Wolsey Personal gain –Rich Survival - Common Man
CONVENIENCE & CONSCIENCE To give into convenience or expediency at the price of conscience, or doing the right thing, destroys the self.
CONVENIENCE & CONSCIENCE -Rich – I’m lamenting. I’ve lost my innocence…it can’t have been very important. ~44 -And you’ll find it easier next time ~45.
CONVENIENCE & CONSCIENCE But there is another reason for why Bolt spoke against political expediency: Cast your minds back to Bolt’s view of the universe.
The Shelter of Society He will not try to live in [the cosmos]; he will gratefully accept the shelter of his society. ~Preface (xv)
The Shelter of Society and Law More’s trust in the law was his trust in his society; his desperate sheltering beneath the forms of the law was his determination to remain within the shelter of society. ~Preface (xv)
The Shelter of Society and Law And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – Man’s laws, not God’s – and if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? ~More (p.39)
The Shelter of Society and Law Cromwell’s contemptuous shattering of the forms of law by an unconcealed act of perjury showed how fragile for an individual is that shelter. ~ Preface (xv)
The Shelter of Society and Law “ ‘so far as the law of God allows’. How far the law of God does allow it remains a matter of opinion since the Act doesn’t state it.” (48) “Man, you’re cautious.” Norfolk to More (53)
The Shelter of Society and Law “Pooh, he’s a pragmatist – and that’s the only resemblance he has to the Devil.” (66) It’s just a matter of finding the right law. Or making one. ~ Cromwell Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…But for Wales___!
The Shelter of Society and Law The trappings of the Law p.88 The trappings of the Law p.88 Perjury as the weakening of the law. Perjury as the weakening of the law. The terrifying cosmos – water imagery. The terrifying cosmos – water imagery. The Role of the Comman Man The Role of the Comman Man
THE COMMON MAN Opportunistic (14) Opportunistic (14) Realist (57) Realist (57) Uses his sense of powerlessness for inaction. (75) Uses his sense of powerlessness for inaction. (75) Guided by common sense. Guided by common sense.
THE COMMON MAN A Brechtian device – addresses the audience. A Brechtian device – addresses the audience. What the Common Man represents What the Common Man represents Represents the ‘common people’ – ‘everyman’ Represents the ‘common people’ – ‘everyman’ Adam Adam The average man who witnesses injustice without speaking out or acting to intervene. The average man who witnesses injustice without speaking out or acting to intervene. Didactic – moral message Didactic – moral message
I’m breathing…Are you breathing too?...It’s nice isn’t it? It isn’t difficult to keep alive friends …just don’t make trouble – or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that’s expected. ~Common Man (Alternate ending)
THE PRIMACY OF SELF Public Duty vs Private Conscience I believe when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties…they lead their country by a short route to chaos. ~ More to Wolsey (p.12)
THE PRIMACY OF SELF But what matters to me is not whether it’s true or not but that I believe it to be true, or rather not that I believe it, but that I believe it. (53)
THE PRIMACY OF SELF What you have hunted me for is not my actions, but the thoughts of my heart. It is a long road you have opened. For first men will disclaim their hearts and presently they will have no hearts. God help the statesmen who walk your road. (p.95)
Alienation When there is a conflict between society’s expectations and the individual, the person must be authentic to themselves. This will often mean being alienated from society.
MAKE THE LINK In what ways was More alienated from his society?
ALIENATION In the end, More was lucky to have his family’s support,
ALIENATION ‘As for understanding, I understand you’re the best man that I ever met or am likely to…’ ~Alice to More (p.86)
ALIENATION But even if he didn’t, he would have to remain true to himself – even to the point of death.
ALIENTATION Lighting change commences, darkness gathering on the others, leaving More isolated in the light out of which he answers them in the shadows. (66) Lighting change commences, darkness gathering on the others, leaving More isolated in the light out of which he answers them in the shadows. (66) In the scene before the execution, More finds himself alone in a spotlight to the right. In the scene before the execution, More finds himself alone in a spotlight to the right.
‘obstinate opinions’ (89) ‘And you’ll find it easier next time.” (45)
‘a man’s soul is his self’ (93) Will you help England by populating her with liars? (93) It’s just a matter of finding the right law. Or making one. The King’s a man of conscience and he wants either Sir Thomas More to bless his marriage or Sir Thomas More destroyed. Either will do.