Robert Bolt

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Robert Oxton Bolt (August 15, 1924February 20, 1995) was an English playwright and screenwriter.


  • Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law?
    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
    Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
    More: Oh? And, when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast – man’s laws, not God’s – and, if you cut them down – and you’re just the man to do it – d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.
    • Act I
  • Roper: This was not practical; this was moral!
    More: Oh, now I understand you, Will. Morality's not practical. Morality's a gesture. A complicated gesture learned from books.
    • Act II
  • Cromwell: You brought yourself to where you are now.
    More: Yes. Still, in another sense, I was brought.
    • Act II
  • Cromwell: The King's a man of conscience and he wants either Sir Thomas More to bless his marriage or Sir Thomas More destroyed.
    Rich: They seem odd alternatives, Secretary.
    Cromwell: Do they? That's because you're not a man of conscience. If the King destroys a man, that's proof to the King that it must have been a bad man, the kind of man a man of conscience ought to destroy — and of course a bad man's blessing's not worth having. So either will do.
    • Act II
  • More: I will not take the oath. I will not tell you why I will not.
    Norfolk: Then your reasons must be treasonable!
    More: Not "must be;" may be.
    Norfolk: It's a fair assumption!
    More: The law requires more than an assumption; the law requires a fact.
    • Act II
  • Norfolk: I'm not a scholar, as Master Cromwell never tires of pointing out, and frankly I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at those names... You know those men! Can't you do what I did, and come with us for friendship?
    More: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for friendship?
    Cranmer: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas?
    More: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one.
    Cranmer: Then the matter is capable of question?
    More: Certainly.
    Cranmer: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty — and sign.
    More: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.
    • Act II
  • Cromwell: You don't seem to appreciate the seriousness of your position.
    More: I defy anyone to live in that cell for a year and not appreciate the seriousness of his position.
    Cromwell: Yet the State has harsher punishments.
    More: You threaten like a dockside bully.
    Cromwell: How should I threaten?
    More: Like a Minister of State, with justice!
    Cromwell: Oh, justice is what you're threatened with.
    More: Then I'm not threatened.
    • Act II
  • More: You want me to swear to the Act of Succession?
    Margaret: "God more regards the thoughts of the heart than the words of the mouth." Or so you've always told me.
    More: Yes.
    Margaret: Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.
    More: What is an oath then but words we say to God?
    • Act II
  • When a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then — he needn't hope to find himself again.
    • Sir Thomas More, Act II
  • Margaret: Haven't you done as much as God can reasonably want?
    More: Well... finally... it isn't a matter of reason; finally it's a matter of love.
    Alice: You're content, then, to be shut up here with mice and rats when you might be home with us!
    More: Content? If they'd open a crack that wide I'd be through it. Well, has Eve run out of apples?
    Margaret: I've not yet told you what the house is like, without you.
    More: Don't, Meg.
    Margaret: What we do in the evenings, now that you're not there.
    More: Meg, have done!
    Margaret: We sit in the dark because we've no candles. And we've no talk because we're wondering what they're doing to you here.
    More: The King's more merciful than you. He doesn't use the rack.
    • Act II
  • More: I am faint when I think of the worst that they may do to me. But worse than that would be to go without you not understanding why I go.
    Alice: I don't!
    More: Alice, if you can tell me that you understand, I think I can make a good death, if I have to.
    Alice: Your death's no "good" to me!
    More: Alice, you must tell me that you understand!
    Alice: I don't! I don't believe this had to happen.
    More: If you say that, Alice, I don't know how I'm to face it.
    Alice: It's the truth!
    More: You're an honest woman.
    Alice: Much good it may do me! I'll tell you what I'm afraid of: that when you're gone, I shall hate you for it.
    • Act II
  • Jailer: You understand my position, sir, there's nothing I can do; I'm a plain, simple man and just want to keep out of trouble.
    More: Oh, Sweet Jesus! These plain, simple men!
    • Act II
  • Have patience, Margaret, and trouble not thyself. Death comes for us all; even at our birth — even at our birth, death does but stand aside a little. And every day he looks toward us and muses somewhat to himself whether that day or the next he will draw nigh. It is the law of nature, and the will of God. You have long known the secrets of my heart.
    • Sir Thomas More, Act II
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