T S Eliot S Verse Dramatization Of The Murder Of Thomas Becket At Canterbury, Winner Of The Nobel Prize For LiteratureThe Archbishop Thomas Becket Speaks Fatal Words Before He Is Martyred In T S Eliot S Best Known Drama, Based On The Murder Of The Archbishop Of Canterbury In Praised For Its Poetically Masterful Handling Of Issues Of Faith, Politics, And The Common Good, T S Eliot S Play Bolstered His Reputation As The Most Significant Poet Of His Time The spiritual barrenness of the modern age subsists in T S Eliot s verse drama, Murder in the Cathedral The play is based on the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury After seven years of absence, Becket returns to England and becomes a martyr Peace is brought unto the people.The Christian idea of peace and martyrdom are the gyre of the play Eliot was commissioned to write Murder in the Cathedral for the Canterbury Festival in 1935 The religious limbo of the modern age is clearly visible in the sufferings of the chorus They serve as the common person who are the worst sufferers of any change The chorus, the women of Canterbury, the ones who have seen things in a shaft of sunlight , keep waiting for the cloud of gloom to pass, For us, the poor, there is no action,But only to wait and to witness Murder in the Cathedral is not one of the best plays I have read, but it certainly is one of those plays that makes one think about the past gone by I now understand Eliot s criticism of the play In the face of rigid human sufferings, how can clinging on to the strands of religion give even an iota of peace Murder in the Cathedral by T.S Eliot A play based on the murder of Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century by knights loyal to King Henry II Becket and Henry had been very close friends, some comparisons were established between this relationship and that of Henry VIII and Thomas More both involve the conflict of the role of the state secularism versus the church religion in which they regulate human affairs.The play begins with Thomas returning from exile in France It is marked by the presence of priests and accompanied by a chorus of women whose anxieties for their safety, and their own well being, increasing their disturbing intensity as the piece reaches its climax Becket is tempted by four individuals, representing worldly pleasures temporal power against the king temporal power against the king s enemies the barons , and spiritual power and glory He eloquently confronts each of them, in turn, almost succumbing, however, to the last of them, which he considered the greatest betrayal Announcing his recent enlightenment, he triumphantly dies at the hands of knights a true martyr He did not actively seek his own death and glory, but submitted himself to a destiny ordained by God The knights, echoing the characteristics of the four tempters, in an attempt to justify their actions, in which Eliot deftly represents. A fabulous verse drama about the martyrdom of Thomas Becket Most of the action is in Thomas s head, as he rejects the easy solutions presented by his Tempters, and decides to stick to the course which inevitably leads to his death My favorite lines are the following The last temptation is the greatest treasonTo do the right deed for the wrong reason It sounds convincing, but I ve never been able to decide if I agree Given how uncertain people generally are about their motives, isn t what you do the most important thing For example, when you read about the background to many great works of art, you ll often find that they were composed for the most trivial and ridiculous of reasons impressing some random woman that the author was keen on, settling scores with a rival, winning a bet, or, most often, just paying an overdue bill I don t think that makes any difference at all But Eliot s poetry is so compelling that you only think of this stuff afterwards while reading it, I just find myself swept along by the verse It s one of his best pieces, and surprisingly unknown compared to Prufrock and The Waste Land. One of T.S Eliot s masterpieces, Murder in the Cathedral is a drama of the return to England and martyrdom of St Thomas Becket From the historical events, Eliot creates a piece of writing that is simultaneously, and in equal proportions, a prayer, a study in the psychology of both the murderer and the martyr, and a meditation upon the proper relationship between church and state The result is one of the greatest works of 20th century literature in the English language.Eliot begins shortly before Thomas s return to Canterbury following seven years in France A feeling of trepidation is already in the air The players, like the audience, know already what is going to happen.Upon Thomas s return, he is haunted by four successive temptations The first three are the obvious temptations of anyone in his position power, ease, and treason The fourth, however, comes as a surprise even to Thomas the temptation to do the right thing, to embrace martyrdom, but for the wrong reasons Thomas conquers each temptation in turn The Interlude, a homily by Thomas upon martyrdom, finally shows that he has conquered the fourth temptation.After the murder of Thomas, the knights who have killed him each in turn step forward to justify themselves to the audience Just as Thomas s homily revealed the mind of the martyr, the mind of the murderer is revealed in the defenses given by each knight for his actions The audience is asked to decide who was in the right, if anyone Perhaps, Eliot seems to indicate, both Henry and Thomas, as well as the knights, were doing their duty, however much the particular duty of each might bring them into conflict with the other.The book concludes, as it ought, with a prayer to God as well as to St Thomas, the martyr, not with an invocation of the king Blessed Thomas, pray for us.
Thomas Stearns Eliot was a poet, dramatist and literary critic He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948 for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present day poetry He wrote the poems The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Ash Wednesday, and Four Quartets the plays Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party and the essay Tradition and the Individ
- 148 pages
- Murder in the Cathedral
- T.S. Eliot
- 19 July 2019 T.S. Eliot