The self in society - In his preface, Robert Bolt addresses the apparent disagreement between Thomas More's moralism and his periodic recourse to legal and moral loopholes. In this sense, More is carefully realistic at the expense of his beliefs. If More sometimes seems hypocritical, it is because he is trying to balance his respect for the law and society with his deep-rooted sense of self. He obeys the law fully, and, in the end, the trial has to come up with false charges in order to execute him.
Corruption - Man charts the rise of Richard Rich even as it follows the fall of Sir Thomas More. As More's unwavering selfhood earns him a spot on the chopping block, Rich acquires more and more wealth and status by selling out. At first bemoaning his loss of innocence, Rich has no doubts by the end of the play about perjuring himself in exchange for a high-ranking position.In Act One, scene eight, Rich exchanges information about the silver cup for a job offering from Cromwell. But Man has more to do with being true to oneself than with the timeworn traditions of Puritan morality. Though Bolt's scene recalls many a cautionary tale, it should also be noted that the point is not that Rich is going to hell. Rather, Rich's corruption is set against Thomas More's hard and fast sense of self. If Rich's long life is ultimately not to be greedy, it is because he has managed to sacrifice the only thing worth living for.
The Self And Friendship - According to Bolt, More has "an adamantine sense of self," but the play raises the question of just how closely he relates to other people, and if his relationships with others are altered due to his own sense of self. More appears to be more of a teacher than he is a friend or a lover. Or, one could say that More shows his friendship and love by teaching others. Due to his dependence upon his own conscience, More seems to have developed the idea that others must learn to listen to their consciences as well.