Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Murder in the Cathedral

Murder in the Cathedral. T.S. Eliot. 1930. 88 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: (Chorus) Here let us stand, close by the cathedral. Here let us wait. Are we drawn by danger?

Premise/plot: Murder in the Cathedral is a drama written mostly in verse, with some prose as well. It's a historical play about Thomas Becket, about the murder of Thomas Becket. It's a play with two parts. The first part has him arriving back in England, returning to the cathedral, being welcomed by the (women) chorus of Canterbury and the priests. This section also has Thomas Becket being approached by four tempters. Why did he return? What are his intentions? What will he do--or not do? The second section includes the murder: before, during, after.

My thoughts: It was okay. The weirdest part, for me, was the prose section where the four knights--who all had a hand in the murder--spoke to the audience in an attempt to say, HEY, IT WASN'T REALLY MY FAULT. Listen to my excuses for the next few pages. The style was a little too different for it to flow well. That being said, this play was a relatively quick read. (An interest in history helps with that, I imagine.)

Favorite quotes:
(Thomas) They speak better than they know, and beyond your understanding. They know and do not know, what it is to act or suffer. They know and do not know, that action is suffering and suffering is action. Neither does the agent suffer nor the patient act. But both are fixed in an eternal action, an eternal patience to which all must consent that it may be willed and which all must suffer that they will it, that the pattern may subsist, for the pattern is the action and the suffering, that the wheel may turn and still be forever still. (17)
(Thomas) Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns. (19)
(Thomas) The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason. (30)
(Thomas) Human kind cannot bear very much reality. (43)
(Thomas) We have fought the beast and have conquered. We have only to conquer now, by suffering. This is the easier victory. (46) 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Joy Weese Moll said...

I think I'd like to see this performed!