He must be patient, but actively patient. The terrified Chorus begins with an ominous address, after which four boorish knights enter. He wrote the play during the rise of fascism in Central Europe. In effect, he is tempting Thomas to drop his sternness and responsibilities so as to enjoy an easier, more luxurious life. They are greeted as servants of the King. Beckett defied King Henry's attempts to limit the power of the Catholic Church and was ultimately killed by four knights. First Priest — He is the worrier.
Their realization of how intense their own existence will become parallels his as the worst moment of the journey. The Women of Canterbury know what decision Beckett has made. Bradley was finished by 1916, but he failed to return for the viva voce exam. . From the beginning of Murder in the Cathedral, the women of Canterbury function in much the same way. He is the representative of the times when Thomas was able to use the post to aid the common man.
Eliot is not overly optimistic about the strength of the common mob, and the extremely violent imagery they use in their speeches proves this. He ends the sermon by saying that it may be the last time he stands before the congregation, foreshadowing his martyrdom. He remembers when Thomas was Chancellor and well loved by the King, even though all the barons hated him. Thomas was labeled a traitor by the King privately. When he still denies their request, they force him off stage against his will.
It has spawned several film and theatrical interpretations and remains an important part of the Thomas Becket myth in the Western world. He is not incorrect in arguing that Thomas will do great good for his church by dying, and so Thomas would not be rejecting his holy duty by giving in to the man's temptation. The Women of Canterbury are stuck in an in between zone. The insults them and insists they fake happiness to welcome Thomas. The first appeals to Becket's love of his body physical pleasures , the second appeals to his love of control Chancellorship , and the third appeals to his ambition to be greater, a quality that defines Becket's rise from a middle-class boy to one of the most powerful people in England. His temptation is powerful because it touches on something Thomas has wished in his private moments.
Could Jesus be reborn into such scorn? He acknowledges that by accepting martyrdom, he might be judged harshly by history, but that nobody can control such things. He sees the return of the Archbishop as bringing trouble for the church and the congregation. The reminds Thomas of the libertine ways of his youth and tempts him to relinquish his responsibilities in favor of a more carefree life. Then the Priests stand together with the banners behind them. He alludes to the potential of his impending death and martyrdom and begs the congregation to remember his words.
They recognize that it is not their own personal danger that draws them closer to the cathedral, but instead the foreshadowing of a horrifying act in which they will be forced to bear witness. He remembers when Thomas was Chancellor and well loved by the King, even though all the barons hated him. Third Priest — He is the patient one. The priests' arguments do not convince Thomas, who accuses them of thinking too much of cause-and-effect, rather than accepting God's plan. Additionally, the play's most central themes are introduced even before Becket enters. They see more clearly than ever before how depraved and foul the world truly is. He goes on to say that although the Knights may be guilty of murder Thomas is guilty of suicide.
Instead, Eliot reveals how terribly the common mob is affected by the 'great' men of tragedy. It requires that congregation to open their eyes and discover how terrible and cruel the world can be. He thinks the spiritual should be totally shunned, whereas the fourth tempter argues for the opposite. This effect is in line with Eliot's intent to structure the experience of his play alongside that of a mass. In the way of the Greek Dramas, they provide a link between the audience and the characters of the play. He begs the audience to give him the chance to explain. Ashamed that this fourth tempter has revealed his innermost desires, Becket wonders if it is even possible to escape damnation on account of pride such as his desire for glory and renown because of martyrdom.
And yet the bishops of the Church were too free from secular control in Henry's eyes, even having their own courts and system of justice that was completely divorced from the king's courts. The knights insist that the interdiction was engineered through Thomas, who could have them absolved. He had more immediate control. Although life is hard at least they know what to expect. The Chorus gives the final speech while a Latin song, the Te Deum, is sung in the background.
If only the characters go through a transformation, then the ritual or play is meaningless. Even though Greek tragedies ended poorly for their heroes, audiences were meant to respond to the bravery with which these heroes accepted their deaths. They demand Thomas lift all the excommunications he has put upon English rulers. The Chorus suggests a supernatural sense to the impending events, since they have felt themselves drawn toward the cathedral. While he was teaching at the University of London the couple stayed with philosopher Bertrand Russell. Not to live on in history. There he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne.
In response, the tempter repeats the same speech about the relationship between acting and suffering using the image of the wheel which Becket gave to the priests before. However, nothing has happened since his final speech of Part I to make us think that he might have changed his mind. Thomas, is the act of judging whether some action should or should not be done or, after it has been done, of judging whether it was right to do or not. They cannot personally take any path that will enact immediate change, but they are crucial toward convincing Thomas; likewise, their decision to accept their own fate is equally important. Eliot died of emphysema in 1965.