After More leaves, Cromwell and Rich discuss the situation. Rich wonders if More can be frightened. Cromwell says, “We’ll put something in the cupboard” (119). Cromwell repeats that as “a man of conscience” (119) the King wants Thomas to bless his marriage or be destroyed. Rich says those are odd alternatives, but Cromwell explains that in the King’s logic, if he destroys someone, it is proof the person was bad. Cromwell claims they are keepers of the King’s conscience. “And it’s ravenous” (120).
Act Two, Scene Seven: Commentary
Cromwell reveals something about the King and about himself at the same time. The King has started down a course where he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He has Church and Parliament under his control. He is not above the law; he is the law, as far as he is concerned. Cromwell sees that the King calls his ambition his “conscience,” as he did when he told Thomas he felt his first marriage was a sin. Cromwell is a tool of the King, but at the same time, enjoys the cruelty of power and being Henry’s instrument. He likes to see virtuous men fall. He enjoys laying traps. There could be the concern that Henry’s subordinates are arranging all this terrorizing, but More knows it is the King who wrote the denunciation, because he recognizes the language. This is why he is finally afraid and knows he is no longer safe.