T.S. Eliot’s Murder in The Cathedral:The Religious Elements ; Becket as a Passive Character: Becket’s Martyrdom and its Significance


  T.S. Eliot’s Murder in The Cathedral

The religious elements: In this play T.S. Eliot has shown how drama can still bean instrument of community in the two senses corresponding to its original function as an extension of the liturgy and as an interpretation of god’s word in terms of flesh and blood.

The purpose of this play is to interpret the significance of martyrdom and the audience being invited to participate in the celebration of an act of martyrdom. Part-11 has something of the quality of liturgical celebration. It is not a plain representation of the historical fact which is lice that of the Holy Communion to the last super.

So the audience is invited to participate in sprite and through the act watching its link with the communion of saints’. The play is a devotional morality. But it is not ordinary morality. It is drama beyond drama written as room within spiritual self-conflict of a saint.

T.S. Eliot
Becket as a Passive Character: The character of Becket himself round whom the whole action revolves, is disappointment. Thomas, says Mason, exists only for the presentation of spiritual crisis. He is less a man, says Helen Gardener, than an embodied attitude. His role is essentially a passive one. He is assailed by the Tempters, importuned by the knights. In so a long course he finds no alternative to defend himself. He has little to do but go forward to a predetermined life. Nor is any of the best poetry in the play put in to his month. While the long server, in which he explains his slightly equivocal victory over the spiritual pride, is couched in such simple prose that it lacks dramatic impact.




From the words of the Tempers, and of the chorus we learn the bare facts of Thomas’s early life. But, it seems, all the time Eliot rejects many ecstasy of Becket’s human qualities to make him godly. It fails on both the sides. Thus we find that the character of Becket is a passive one.

Becket’s Martyrdom and its Significance: Becket’s death may be a tragedy in the sense that he is murdered. But by his death he achieves the glory of martyrdom. As Butcher says , “the death of martyrdom presents to as not the defect but the victory of the individual , the issue of a conflict in which the individual is ranged on the same side as hanger powers and the sense of suffering consequently is lost in that of moral triumph”.




It may be a personal tragedy but it is a comedy as well for his death has the power to purify the lives of other. The Canterbury women are transformed and his martyrdom, the tragedy of Becket is a contemning tragedy, for in an age a church must be crucified to God for the sins of humanity. As the chores says:
He thank this for they merges of bold for they redemption by blood for by blood for the blood of they martyrs and saints Shall enrich the earth, shall create the holy places......
G.Wilson rightly remarks:
           “Becket in the Cathedral dramatized by Becket as a type of Christian hero, conquering and attaining martyrdom.”      
                   
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