Down to the Wire: Just $8,038 left to match to win our Challenge Grant. Your gift will still be doubled!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Is More a bore?

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 09, 2008

Is it heresy to whisper that the sainted Thomas More is a bit of a bore?

Thus begins a New York Times review of a Broadway revival of Robert Bolt's memorable Man for All Seasons: the play that became the still-more-memorable movie.

No, it's not heresy. A saint could, in theory, be a dull subject for theatrical portrayal. But it's a curious criticism, at least, to say (as Times review Ben Brantley says) that the playwright "neglects to include several essential ingredients for a compelling dramatic hero. Like conflict, doubt, vacillation and change."

Is it obligatory for a dramatic hero to manifest self-doubt? Somebody should tell Sophocles. 

In the screenplay, Bolt takes pains to show the interior struggle of St. Thomas More: a good man's desire to save his position, his family, and ultimately his life; competing against the demands of intellect, honor, and conscience; in the end, with the prospect of martyrdom staring him in the face, recognizing: "Finally, it's a matter of love."

Did the lead actor fail to display that dramatic struggle? Apparently not; Brantley goes to great length to praise the work of Frank Langella, who played the role of St. Thomas.

So what is the critic's complaint, then? There may be a clue in his off-hand reference to the "monolithic goodness" of the saint's character. An evil character might be easier to take--and indeed Brantley expresses keen interest in the role of the conniving, amoral Cromwell. But virtue is out of fashion. 

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($59,597 to go):
$150,000.00 $90,403.12
40% 60%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Getting Marriage Right 8 hours ago
O Earthly Lord, vouchsafe to us high speed Internet. 11 hours ago
No 'Francis effect' in Strasbourg 15 hours ago
What Pope Francis told European Parliament, and what Pope John Paul II said 17 hours ago
Public perception demands a way of mercy November 24

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - 19 hours ago