A Man for All Seasons

by

Robert Bolt

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Cardinal Wolsey Character Analysis

Thomas Wolsey is a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Lord Chancellor, an adviser to the King. When England was a part of the Catholic Church he served as a liaison between the King and the Pope. He likes Thomas More, but finds his refusal to cooperate with the King frustrating. Bolt describes Wolsey as being incredibly smart, incredibly ambitious, and incredibly unhappy. Although he was eventually accused of treason, he died before he could be tried and executed.

Cardinal Wolsey Quotes in A Man for All Seasons

The A Man for All Seasons quotes below are all either spoken by Cardinal Wolsey or refer to Cardinal Wolsey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of A Man for All Seasons published in 1990.
Act 1 Quotes

Wolsey: It’s a devious situation.
More: There must be something simple in the middle of it. (Again this is not a moral dictum; it is said rather wistfully, as of something he is beginning to doubt)
Wolsey: I believe you believe that. You’re a constant regret to me, Thomas. If you could just see the facts flat on, without that horrible moral squint; with just a little common sense, you could have been a statesman.

Related Characters: Sir Thomas More (speaker), Cardinal Wolsey (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

Well…I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties…they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

Related Characters: Sir Thomas More (speaker), Cardinal Wolsey
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:
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Cardinal Wolsey Character Timeline in A Man for All Seasons

The timeline below shows where the character Cardinal Wolsey appears in A Man for All Seasons. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...of Thomas Cromwell, Norfolk reveals to the group that Cromwell has been promoted to the Cardinal’s Secretary. Everyone is shocked. Alice asks, “a farrier’s son?” but Norfolk reminds her that the... (full context)
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
The Steward enters with a letter summoning More to the Cardinal’s office, although it is now eleven at night. As More leaves he sees that Rich... (full context)
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
The scene changes, and Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas More meet in Wolsey’s office. It is now past one in the... (full context)
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
More and Wolsey hear the trumpet announcing the King. He’s returning from an evening with his mistress, Anne... (full context)
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
Wolsey acknowledges More’s right to his own conscience, but points out that as a statesman, he... (full context)
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
Wolsey asks More who should be the next Cardinal. More suggests a man named Tunstall, but... (full context)
The Meaning of Silence Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Man’s Law vs. God’s Law Theme Icon
...from behind an arch on the stage. He’s on his way to talk to the Cardinal, but clearly been listening to More’s conversation. He wonders if More left the Cardinal in... (full context)
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Alice wakes up and joins More and Margaret. The two women want to know why Wolsey called More to meet. They tell More that Norfolk thinks More will be Chancellor if... (full context)
Financial vs. Moral Richness Theme Icon
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...who came to the castle to hunt with the King. Cromwell comments on changing fortunes; Wolsey was once high-powered but died a traitor, and Rich, once a political unknown, is rising... (full context)
Conscience, Integrity, and Reputation Theme Icon
Henry and More discuss the late Cardinal Wolsey. More comments that Wolsey was “a statesman of incomparable ability.” Henry argues that because... (full context)