More goes out to the river to call a boat to go home, but he tells Norfolk who follows him that they won’t bring him a boat. Norfolk convinces him that it is a sign of his status. It’s too dangerous to be around him. More says humbly it is good of Norfolk to be seen with him. Norfolk pleads with him as a friend to change his mind and tells him he is acting like a fool. He is no gentleman. Norfolk explains to More that the King is using him in the plot against More. More tells Norfolk he must cease to know him; he relieves him of the friendship. No one is safe. More says he can’t give in. In one desperate move, More tries to explain how the love of God is more important than friendships. Norfolk says he will break his heart. More tries to shake hands and part as friends, but Norfolk is angry. More tries to insult him to get him to give up. He accuses Norfolk and his class of giving in because their religion means nothing to them. He makes an insult on Norfolk’s pedigree and as Margaret appears, Norfolk leaves.
Act Two, Scene Eight: Commentary
This is one of the few places where More explains himself. He is not being true to religion, but to God, who is his innermost self. It’s not doctrine that is important, but self-integrity, and he accuses Norfolk and the whole nobility of England of not having any. It’s obvious that Norfolk and More are fond of each other. Norfolk tries to save him, and to convince him he is letting his friends down, but More tries to explain there is something deeper than friendship. He does not mind Norfolk staying away from him because it is now dangerous in England for everyone. More purposely insults Norfolk to send him away.