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Duke of Norfolk
The Duke of Norfolk is Sir Thomas More’s friend. He seems almost innocent when compared to Cromwell. Since he took part in bringing More down, he surely cannot be considered a faithful friend. However, he does continually try to get Sir Thomas to save himself. He does not understand that it would be impossible for More to do that.
The Duke of Norfolk’s name was Thomas Howard. He was the 3 rd Duke of Norfolk. He married Lady Anne, the daughter of Henry IV. He was a member of the old nobility. The old nobility was frequently against the men, such as Thomas Wolsey, who rose from a common birth to a position of power. Norfolk was an uncle of Anne Boleyn. This gave him a reason to want the king to marry Anne besides his loyalty to the king.
Alice More is Sir Thomas More’s wife. She does not know how to read and does not want to learn. She is unable to understand why More won’t just do as the king demands. It would be so much simpler. Then they could continue with their life together. She finally accepts his reasons without understanding them.
Margaret is Sir Thomas More’s daughter. She has received a good education from her father and others. It was unusual in the Sixteenth Century for a woman to be educated. She comes closest to understanding him. During the timeframe of the play, Margaret marries the man she loves, Will Roper. At times in the play Margaret is called Meg.
Cardinal Wolsey was a powerful player in the reign of King Henry VIII until he fell out of favor with the King. During earlier years, he could almost be described as equal to the King in power. He was frequently at odds with the old nobility, such as the Duke of Norfolk, who resented the fact that a commoner could rise so high in the King’s Court. Besides irritating the old nobility, Wolsey also caused disquiet among the commoners. They did not like to pay the taxes that he caused to be levied. They also looked askance at his luxurious lifestyle.
Thomas Cromwell seemed to make Machiavelli his guide to living. He was in Wolsey’s service until Wolsey’s fall. After that he worked for the King. He seemed to have no sense of guilt or shame. When the King felt that something unpleasant needed to be done to someone, others would do what was required of them somewhat reluctantly. Cromwell performed his required tasks with relish.
Chapuys was Spanish Ambassador to England during the time of the play. His first name was Eustace. He was a good friend and supporter of Queen Catherine. He also pressed for her rights and privileges because he was working for the King of Spain who was Catherine’s nephew. He frequently masked his political agenda with an interest in religion.
William Roper is the suitor of and then the husband of Sir Thomas More’s daughter, Margaret in the play. He is anti-Catholic in part of the play, but then becomes a Catholic like his wife is.
Henry is King Henry VIII, King of England. Some of his actions are those of a man without a conscience. But, he does have a conscience. He just turns the world upside down and inside out in order to make his actions moral. What Sir Thomas More thinks of him is extremely important to him because he knows that More is a moral man. More’s acceptance of what the King does would make the King appear to be a moral man also. He is only in one scene of the play, but much of the dialogue centers around him.
Woman (pg. 100 & pg. 161)
The character referred to as Woman is given the name Catherine Anger. She is the person who tried to bribe Sir Thomas More with a silver cup causing him to want to get rid of it immediately. He gives the cup to Richard Rich. Later the cup and the woman are back in the action when Cromwell tries to use them to trap Sir Thomas. Finally, as More is walking toward the headsman, the woman tries to get More to say that she was right.
Attendant of Chapuys (pg. 105)
The attendant of Chapuys appears to have a lot in common with the Common Man characters. He is basically someone to whom Chapuys can speak his mind.
Cranmer (pg. 135)
Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533 because King Henry VIII liked the course of action that he promoted to assure that the King succeeded in divorcing Queen Catherine. He served the King even when what he was asked to do revolted him. Later, after the time period of this play, he was the force behind the creation of the Book of Common Prayer.