In most books, small roles are never very significant, but in A Man For All Seasons one of the characters proves this wrong. The common Man is an ordinary person who the audience can relate to. This ties in with one of the main idea of the play, human nature. The audience learns that the Common Man can jump into different roles and assume that characters identity. The roles he plays although modest, are still very important to the development of the plot. The speeches that he delivers help keep the audience informed on past events and upcoming conflicts. In addition, the personality of the characters gives the audience insight into the story. The common Mans roles however minor still contribute greatly to the development of the story and, prove the importance of this character.
As the audience discovers in the beginning of the play, the Common Man can change roles at will. The characters he takes on usually have very short parts. The characters are used to foreshadow future events and help in plot development. In the introduction of the play, the audience meets the Common Man. He is dressed from head to toe in black tights, which shows off his pot-bellied figure. The black clothes he wears suggest darkness and death. Next, the audience meets Steward, Thomas Mores butler. He is a humble character but has some extremely important lines that foreshadow Thomas Mores future. My master Thomas More would give anything away to anyone. I say that s bad because some day someone s going to ask him for something that he wants to keep; and he ll be out of practice. There must be something he wants to keep its only common sense. (Bolt 17) This quote foreshadows Thomas More not wanting to go against his conscience and swear to the King Henrys oath. The audience also meets the Boatman, who seems to be quite ordinary and poor. In the short conversation that he has with Thomas More, an additional line foreshadows the future. The river looks black tonight. They say it s silting up, is that so? (Bolt 28) In this line, river looking black foreshadows thing becoming worse and even death. The Common Mans characters aid in setting the mood and foreshadow events that are still to come. Each character has a unique style, which sets him apart form others.
He also believes that he only serves one master, Thomas More. Steward betrayed Thomas when he becomes a spy for Cromwell. No man can serve two masters, Steward. No indeed sir; I serve one. (Bolt 41-40) When he says this, he is not telling the truth because he actually is served two master s greed and, Cromwell. When steward gave Cromwell the information it helped him with his case against Thomas More. Another character who is important to the play is The Jailer. He seems to be a very sympathetic person, because he does not treat Thomas like a criminal. When Alice and Margaret come to visit, he lets them stay longer in the cell with Thomas. The Jailer is also a very honest person. When Cromwell offers him money for evidence of Mores disagreement with the Kings oath, the Jailer refuses. I want no part of it. They can sort it out between them. I fell my deafness coming on. (Bolt 136) This shows that the Jailer wants Thomas to have a fair trial and he does not want to be a part in deciding Thomas fate. These two characters do not have very large roles but they both have to make very consequential decisions.
Throughout the play, the Common Man makes some very meaningful speeches. The speeches keep the reader informed about what has happened in the play. The first speech at the beginning of the play introduces the reader to the subject matter of the play. Starting the play off with the Common Man shows that the play is not just a play about Kings and Cardinals but common people. The second major speech at the beginning of act two. This speech recaps what has happened in the two years before the act started. The Common Man tells the audience that times are different and about the new Church of England. Without both of these speeches, the audience would be confused. The common Man fills us in on the important details that we might miss. If the Common Man did none of these elements the play would be harder to understand.
Even thought the Common Mans roles are not very big they still contribute very much to the play. The Common Man is the link to the audience because he is the only character to talk directly to them. The characters give insight and help predict events. This is why The Common Man can be considered an important character.