Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech






Thomas More (Saint) 1478-1535 -- In fiction drama poetry etc., Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) -- In fiction drama poetry etc.



Physical Description

1 online resource (4, 125 leaves ; 28 cm.)


Chapter I. This is a critical study of the rhetoric of Sir Thomas More and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and of plays in which they are portrayed. The purpose is to discover whether or not the rhetoric of the playwrights preserves the integrity of the ideas of the central characters as evidenced by the rhetoric found in their original works .

Chapter II. Rhetorical criticism is rendering a judgment on the fitness, correctness or appropriateness of those discourses, spoken or written the aim of which is to influence the readers or hearers. There is much variety in methods of rhetorical criticism. This study will use the dramatistic pentad proposed by Kenneth Burke. Its elements are act, agent, agency, scene and purpose. It will also employ the naming of strategies, another term from Burke meaning methods or attitudes. In addition judgments will be made on the basis of significant ideas, creative choice of language, integrity and credibility.

Chapter III. Sir Thomas More was a lawyer, scholar and public official in England at the time of King Henry VIII. He incurred the King’s displeasure by his refusal to support him in his efforts for a divorce. He believed strongly in the need to preserve one’s integrity by obeying his conscience. In his trial speech, his main strategies were related to the importance of conscience and his knowledge of the law. He was pronounced guilty of treason and executed.

Chapter IV. In a Man for All Seasons, the playwright has used several theatrical strategies that help to focus attention on More, the central character. He is presented as a genial man of firm reliance on the law and obedience to his conscience. On the basis of a comparison of the rhetoric in the play with that of More, it is concluded that the playwright faithfully preserved the integrity of More’s ideas.

Chapter V. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a theologian, pastor and teacher of Germany during the Nazi regime. He opposed the Nazis on theological grounds, and gradually came to believe that he must become active personally and politically. He joined the resistance movement in a plot to assassinate Hitler. He was imprisoned and executed. His chief motive for action was obedience to God. In selected writings, he is seen to have a strong faith in God, and great hope for the future.

Chapter VI. The Cup of Trembling is a play based on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though using mostly fictional names. Again, the playwright uses devices that bring out the hero’s character. His struggle against the Nazis is seen to involve a corresponding struggle within himself as he makes decisions about his role in the situation. His faith in God and obedience to God are expressed, as well as his hope for the future. On the basis of similar ideas expressed in both media, it is concluded that the playwright succeeded in preserving the integrity of Bonhoeffer’s ideas.

Chapter VI I. The key idea of conscience is seen to have been preserved by both playwrights. A number of major ideas were traded from the original figure to the play, and their integrity was seen to be preserved. Therefore, it is concluded that the playwrights did preserve the integrity of the ideas of the two men in the rhetoric of their plays. The major implication of this conclusion is that drama is an effective means of expressing the rhetoric of important historical figures.


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Portland State University. Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences

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