Murder in the Cathedral


T. S. Eliot

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Murder in the Cathedral Characters

Thomas Becket

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket was exiled from England by King Henry II due to political conflicts which occurred between them seven years before the beginning of the play. Having spent those years in… read analysis of Thomas Becket

The Chorus

Made up of common women of Canterbury, the Chorus represents the ordinary, “small folk” of the town who look entirely to the Church for spiritual guidance in their lives. They begin the play by expressing… read analysis of The Chorus

The Priests

The priests—three in number—represent the clergy of the Church of Canterbury who are under the religious authority of Archbishop Thomas Becket. They begin the play, opposite the Chorus, in high anticipation of Becket’s… read analysis of The Priests

First Tempter

A former friend of both Becket and the king, the first “tempter” encourages Becket to remember the “good old days” before his exile, when there was no political strife yet with Henry II. Essentially… read analysis of First Tempter

Second Tempter

The second tempter wants Becket to take up the role of Chancellor again (Becket left that position before his exile) and abandon his fanatical investment in religion and the Church. He says that those who… read analysis of Second Tempter
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Third Tempter

The third tempter wants Becket to use his power as Archbishop to help him form a coalition of barons and country-lords that will fight to overthrow the “tyrannous jurisdiction” of King Henry II. This… read analysis of Third Tempter

Fourth Tempter

The fourth tempter encourages Becket to pursue martyrdom, arguing that he should shun the worldly, political order of the king and focus on achieving sainthood. Though Becket doesn’t reject the idea of martyrdom, he… read analysis of Fourth Tempter

First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse)

Reginald Fitz Urse, designated as the first knight and described by the third knight as the leader of the group of four, introduces the other three knights when they turn to the audience to defend… read analysis of First Knight (Reginald Fitz Urse)

Second Knight (William de Traci)

William de Traci, designated as the second knight, is the first of the four knights to offer an “argument” in defense of their murder of Becket. Perhaps more accurately, de Traci offers an argument… read analysis of Second Knight (William de Traci)

Third Knight (Hugh de Morville)

Hugh de Morville, designated as the third knight, begins his speech by echoing Reginald Fitz Urse’s comments about the tendencies of English people to be fair and logical in their thinking, refraining from making… read analysis of Third Knight (Hugh de Morville)

Fourth Knight (Richard Brito)

Richard Brito, designated as the fourth knight, begins his speech by saying that he has nothing to add to the previous speakers’ “particular lines of argument.” He instead reframes the way Becket’s murder has… read analysis of Fourth Knight (Richard Brito)

King Henry II

Though King Henry II never makes a physical appearance in the play, his presence certainly asserts itself in the characters who do. Challenged by Becket’s spiritual extremism, Henry II’s political power represents the secular… read analysis of King Henry II
Minor Characters
The Herald
The Herald announces Becket’s presence in England—that he’s returned from France—to the Chorus and priests in the first part of the play, and claims that Becket’s return will not be without trouble.