Another example that power does not always mean one is in control of humanity is shown through corruption. For example Bolt states “better to live a rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). King Henry is the catalyst for all decisions made in A Man for All Seasons. This quote is significant because it represents hope and how the characters no longer fear treason. This represents corruption in the king’s power. One has the ability to fight for what they believe in whether in society or the king’s eyes it may seem just or unjust. Humanity must learn to look past labels and stand up for what they truly believe in. It does not matter whether one is a small rat or the head lion, everyone has the right to an option.
Another demonstration that hubris is one’s largest hamartia is seen through the character of Sir Thomas More. Though it is “better to live a rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127), those like More, with excessive hubris, choose to live the contrary. He decides to go against his most basic human instincts such as self-preservation and protecting his young, in order to keep his pride. Bolt uses juxtaposing symbolic animals such as the rat and the lion to demonstrate the power difference between those who give in and those who defy the King. Ironically, More strives to be like the lion in order to keep his pride and power, yet he loses the respect of everyone; thus proving that those who pick hubris over more admirable qualities suffer their hamartia.
Another way that it is better to live at all tan to die a hero is demonstrated through More's choice to not fight the state. For example, the common man states " better to live a rat than a dead lion" (Bolt 127). This quote demonstrates the catalyst in society when one cannot speak out against the social norms. It is punishable by death to agree with the church during this time but if one does, than you would act as a hero fighting the oppression of the hierarchy. More has many opportunities to speak out against the government and to be a "lion"; However he values his life and makes the choice to live like a "rat" instead.
Another way that morality can be seen as a downfall is through interactions with others. For instance, Bolt writes that it is, “better to be a live rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). When one’s strong beliefs come in conflict with another person’s, there are often consequences. In this way, always doing what is right can be a hamartia. This quote is saying that it is safer to abandon any scruples one has with or against an ethical action if one is in danger of a greater plight. Morality and conflicting beliefs are often catalysts for negative outcomes. This quote is significant and symbolic because it foreshadows that if More does not abandon his current path of morality, King Henry will have him tried and executed for treason. He will become the dead lion, a martyr. However, abandoning one’s morals does not always mean one will be protected or immune from prosecution. Norfolk decides to be “a live rat” but the King kills him anyway. Therefore, this adage is a fallacy. One’s behaviour is often based upon or in response to the behaviour of others. This is relevant to society because humanity has a tendency to conform even when it does not guarantee security. It is important to be true to one’s self. Doing what is good and correct is not always positive and can even lead to one’s demise.
Another reason that a moral conscience is the hamartia to human downfall is shown through Sir Thomas Moreʼs character. For example, Matthew states, "better to live a rat than a dead lion"(Bolt 127). This is significant because it juxtaposes Sir Thomas More with all other characters. The rate that Matthew speaks of symbolizes characters such as Rich, Alice, and Norfolk who whether or not have a moral conscience chose to disregard that in order to survive. Whereas, Sir Thomas More symbolized as a lion is staying true to his morals knowing that he will die for his treason. This is a microcosm of the apathy and cowardice within society. When injustice occurs people are afraid to act and put aside their morals in order to live. However, it is the lions of society that fight for justice that will be rewarded in the afterlife as Jesus preached, "blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Therefore, Sir Thomas Moreʼs fallacy is possessing a moral conscience.
Another reason for why hubris is the hamartia of society can be seen when the author states that, “Better to be a live rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). The significance of this quote is that it symbolizes the primordial instinct of humans to protect oneself before others. This quote also symbolizes the death of Sir Thomas More as the lion because, like the lion, More represents fortitude with respect to his own morals even though they were contradictory to popular belief at the time, whereas the rat represents the common plight of humanity to change one’s own moral conduct when convenient. This quote also demonstrates the poetic justice of society during this time period because those who changed their morality to appease the King, like Master Cromwell, were later persecuted for their insurrections after the death of King Henry VIII. Therefore it can be said that due to the collective unconscious society will most likely change their moral opinion if their lives are in danger.
Another reason that a moral conscience is the hamartia to humanity is shown through character of Common Man. For example, the author states "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (Bolt 127). This iconic line summarizes the position of Common Man as it refers to "a rat". Throughout the play, Common Man plays the roles of lower-class, such as Matthew, jailer, and the boat man. Common Man deems it is better to live unethical than be dead like Sir Thomas More, who followed his moral conscience. The metaphor of "rat" and "dead lion" is demonstrated through juxtaposition. The characterization of Common Man is the catalyst of the class struggle.
Another example of humanity’s determination for power knowing no bounds is using fear as a weakness. The Jailor explains that those who oppose the power will not last when he states “Better to live a rat than a dead lion (Bolt 127).” He comments on the imagery each animal displays; the rat being a small, selfish, and unfeeling being like Cromwell, juxtaposed to the lion’s proud, strong, and loyal nature like Sir Thomas More. This imagery is demining and could mean the difference of life and death, since the king will allow no lions stand between him and his selfish goals. The Machiavellianism the king possesses allows him to kill ones who displease him. This leads to terror and this terror can be seen in More, he fears for his life turning him into a target of the king’s silver tongue.
Another demonstration how it is better to seek acceptance from oneself over others can be seen when Bolt states, "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (bolt 127). This quote symbolizes that it would be easier to deal with a live rat, a insignificant rodent that no one in society really cares for rather than a dead lion. A dead lion would symbolize someone of high significance whose impact would be felt if they were to be gone. It would be assumed that the killing of such a figure would be the catalyst to an uproar. For example, in Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons", the catalyst to an uproar in England would be the execution of Sir Thomas More; a mere man of God refusing to subject his moral conscience to aid the will of corruption through a greedy King.
Another reason that respect is the catalyst of relationships in today's society can be seen through one's relationship with others. Fore example, when Bolt states that, " "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (bolt 127).This quote signifies that it would be better to live as a traitor, and people who stand up for themselves die. The live rat's signifies the people who have a role in society such as the common man, but were at one point extremely respected in society until they performed an action that goes against their belief. On the other hand, dead lions are usually people who had a larger say in society but have lost it since because they stood up for themselves such as Sir. Thomas More. Therefore shows that people who believe in their own conscience will suffer greatly by the hands of the state unless they change their beliefs.
Another demonstration of how social status plays a large role in society is shown through Sir Thomas More. For example, the jailer states “better to live a rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). This signifies that More's personal social status has placed him in a position to choose his morals or the King. This is the catalyst to More's public juxtaposition against the King which plays a huge role in society because even the King's people will be against More. This is significant because the King will have More killed he is not on the King's side.
Another reason that a person’s moral conscience is the hamartia for the downfall of humanity is shown through Sir Thomas More’s character. For example, the common man states, "better to live a rat than a dead lion"(Bolt 127). This quote is significant as it shows the juxtaposition between the two types of characters in the book. The lion symbolizes Sir Thomas More who fights for his moral conscience knowing that he will have to pay heavy consequences for doing so. Whereas, the rat symbolizes all the other characters in the book, like Rich, Norfolk and Roper, who are too scared to state their own beliefs in front of the society and ready to do anything to survive. Whoever decides to go against the society have to suffer while the rats of the society happily rule. Therefore, Sir Thomas More’s struggle for defending his moral conscience is a mistake as it eventually causes his death.
Another demonstration that hubris overpowers common instincts is when the jailor speaks of the sentences given to More and Norfolk. For example, the jailor states that it is “better to live a rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). This line is significant because even though it is a general statement regarding survival instincts, in the case of A Man For All Seasons, it specifically refers to More. Since Thomas More refuses to swear to the Act of Supremacy, and would rather die with his pride than live without it, More acts as the dead lion as opposed to the live rat. Lions are often known to be proud animals, so it's easy to associate Thomas More as such. Despite being a Christian, and being known as the most moralistic, he commits the deadliest sin with his pride. Any other man would have rather lived under the Act, but in the case of More, his survival instincts were overcome by his hubris.
Another demonstration that it is necessary to go against personal beliefs for one's safety is shown through the character of Sir Thomas More. For example, others advise him that it is "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (Bolt 127). More is a man who closely follows the letter of the law and possesses very strict scruples, but this quality may end up being his hamartia. He is so set in his beliefs, with a strong moral conscience, that he is unwilling to go against his values, even for his safety, Sir Thomas More would rather be a lion, a symbol of pride and ferocity, than play the role of a fickle rat. By not denying personal beliefs Thomas More compromises his safety and puts himself in danger of committing treason. Sir Thomas More is a microcosm of humanity, where standing out as the lion is a dangerous, and potentially harmful, trait.
Another reason why it is better to die with one's pride rather than to live without it, is shown through the common man's outlook on life itself. A demonstration of his morals are "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (Bolt 127). This symbolizes human nature. Humans tend to hold a strong belief system and a set of values for themselves however when pitted against deafh would discard these values. This provides individuals in the same circumstance to be the catalyst of their own fate and those who choose to are soon filled with shame about their decision this is why it is better to take one's pride to death with them, than to ruin while they are alive.
Another example of how valor is difficult to uphold is the Machiavellian traits within others. For examples, when the Common Man addresses the reader, he state, "better to live a rat than a dead lion" (Bolt 127). The symbolism states that one should rather deceive in life than be dead with honour, yet those who have deceived within the play have also died. The dramatic irony concludes that even if those who are Machiavellian will face death from justice. Furthermore, those who are greedy will face substantial opposition, plight, and obstacles that would inhibit the greedy from their goal. Thus, honor and bravery are hard to uphold through those with Machiavellian traits.
Another demonstration that one should always fight for their beliefs is seen through Sir Thomas More’s refusal of the Act of Supremacy. For example, the author states, “better to live a rat than a dead lion” (Bolt 127). The significance of this quote is that More symbolizes a lion with his honesty, integrity, and fortitude. Whereas the King’s followers represent a rat with their dishonest actions and non-religious beliefs. More’s strong moral conscience serves as a catalyst to standing up for what he believes in. Moreover, the irony of the situation is prominent for the live rats become dead and the dead lion becomes a saint. The men belonging to the category of the live rat experience social determinism compared to those of the dead lion which accurately represent free will. Ultimately, More’s choice of free will lead to the resignation from his role as chancellor, and the termination of his relationship with the king entirely.
The second manner in which A Man For All Seasons demonstrates that More follows his personal morals to a fault is how it shows More as unwavering in his ideals to the point of bringing harm to his family. For example, Bolt writes "better to be a live rat than [be] a dead lion" (Bolt 127). This quote, when applied to More, is attempting to demonstrate to More that it is better live, and betray one’s personal ideals, in More’s case his dislike of the reformation, rather than die because of them. More, of course, rejects this assertion, and in following his personal ideals forfeits his position as chancellor of England, brings upon himself financial ruin, and is then arrested for treason. These events, however, do not merely affect More, they also significantly affect his family. He brings upon his entire family destitution in forfeiting his position as chancellor, and causes them unending grief as he is arrested for treason. Furthermore, More also brings risk to his family in that they could be tried for treason merely because they are closely associated with him, although in fairness he did attempt to mitigate this risk by way of keeping silent on his treasonous ideas. More not only brought ruin and potential death upon himself, but also his family, all because he selfishly chose to be a lion rather than a mouse.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.