Silence

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A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt

More: Not so, Master Secretary, the maxim is "qui tacet consentire." The maxim of the law is "Silence gives consent." If, therefore, you wish to construe what my silence "betokened," you must construe that I consented, not that I denied.”

More uses self-imposed silence as his defense during his trial. Cromwell tries to associate his silence with conspiring “traitorously and maliciously to deny and deprive our liege lord Henry of his undoubted certain title.” Cromwell’s evidence is that More refused to take the oath. More wanted to carefully consider the oath in order to be sure he could abide by it without going against his conscience.

Although he makes some great statements, his silence is just as admirable. More would rather listen to his conscious, while Roper likes to talk at length about his principles. He isn’t critical of Norfolk until he needs to be. He refuses to incriminate himself by speaking of his disapproval about the king. Keeping his opinions to himself is also a way for him to protect his family from legal action. It’s a shame silence couldn’t protect him in the end.

Silence in relation to Kindertransport/the Holocaust: More’s silence wasn’t a terrified silence, a passive silence, or one in denial. He refused to give in to his principles. It was a form of bravery, and a test of wills between him and Henry. Common Man is also silent. He could have informed More about the conspiracy against him.

1 Comment

I agree that More's silence wasn't passive or terrified etc. It was a stubborn silence, and silence that allowed More to do what he believed was true and right. His loyalty to both God and King was strong, even though he disagreed with the King. He still refused to condemn the King for his actions, just as much as he refused to approve of them. It is a terrible shame that despite how careful he was, it didn't help him in the end. And I also don't think Common Man could have done anything to help More, even if he said something to More about how everyone was out to get him.

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This page contains a single entry by published on November 10, 2005 12:19 AM.

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