A Man for All Seasons
“Sir Thomas More is more important at this moment than at any moment since his death, but he is not quite so important as he will be in a hundred years time.” G.K. Chesterton 1919
Chesterton’s prescience never fails to astonish.
One of the (many and varied) aspects of homeschooling that I have come to appreciate is the regular reminder that Historia repititur. It was almost eerie to be reading Current Events articles about Catholic nuns being told to pay for abortions, Christian T-shirt makers forced to make gay t-shirts, mayors demanding sermon texts, and Christian pastors forced to perform homosexual and lesbian faux-wedding ceremonies while reading a play about Sir Thomas More’s lawful and principled and quiet stand against Henry VIII’s deep need for (faux) religious approval of his decision to dump his wife.
“In the things of the soul, knowledge without remembrance profits little.” Sir Thomas More
We read Robert Bolt’s play A Man for All Seasons, concurrently with More’s Utopia. In my post Five Tips For Reading Utopia, I mentioned using the study guides from the Center for Thomas More Studies. The same site offers a helpful guide to the play, called a Curriculum Unit, and I recommend it. It helpfully breaks the work up by scenes. Bolt’s Two Act play has a total of 16 scenes, so I combined a few scenes in order to read it in 11 weeks and watch the movie on the twelfth week. The guide also includes a few open-ended questions for each scene.
The Daughter and I picked parts at the beginning of each scene and read the play aloud together (much the way we read Shakespeare). I scheduled about half an hour per week which was plenty of time to get situated, find where we left off, read the portion and then discuss it.
We finished up by popping popcorn and watching the 1966 movie version of A Man for All Seasons (borrowed from Netflix). I found it interesting that the movie was a big winner that year, earning Academy Awards for Screenplay, Cinematography, and Costumes as well as Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture. We both thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie. The sets and costumes are wonderful and we approved of Scofield’s characterization of Sir Thomas More. Robert Bolt’s screenplay adaptation was not entirely faithful to his play. The Daughter noticed that he had completely removed the character of Signor Chapuy, Spanish Ambassador, and therefore the Spanish Catholic element of treason averted, focusing the entire movie on the Act of Supremacy.
More “is a man of angel’s wit and singular learning; I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness, and affability? And as time requireth, a man of marvellous mirth and pastimes: and sometimes of as sad gravity: a man for all seasons.”
Whittington’s Vulgaria printed in 1520,
Our CM inspired homeschool schedule for Y8 included reading “A Man For All Seasons,” by Robert Bolt, in addition to Sir Thomas More’s seminal work Utopia.