Murder in the Cathedral

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 finds fault with this tempter’s reasons for proposing it. The fourth tempter thinks Becket should become a martyr because of the glory and renown associated with the sainthood he’d achieve; he appeals to Becket’s emotions and desires, but not to any higher spiritual principle, such as fate or God’s plan. While this tempter is the closest to getting at the core of Becket’s outlook on the relationship between politics and religion, and manipulating that outlook, he nonetheless disgusts Becket with his forwardness and appeals to secular notions of glory and fame. Perhaps this tempter reveals to Becket the dangers of his own selfishness and human longing for fame; it’s as if the fourth tempter gets too close for comfort by revealing Becket’s real, personal motivations for martyrdom. In a way, then, this tempter is responsible for initiating Becket’s spiritual evolution towards becoming an instrument of God’s will—of fate—and not a puppet of his own human greed.
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Fourth Tempter Character Timeline in Murder in the Cathedral

The timeline below shows where the character Fourth Tempter appears in Murder in the Cathedral. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power Theme Icon
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Temptation Theme Icon
Eternity and Human Understanding Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
The fourth tempter enters the scene, and commends the strength of Becket’s will in rejecting the other tempters’... (full context)
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power Theme Icon
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Temptation Theme Icon
Ultimately, the fourth tempter tells Becket to follow the path of martyrdom—to make himself “the lowest / On earth,... (full context)
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Temptation Theme Icon
Eternity and Human Understanding Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
Ashamed that this fourth tempter has revealed his innermost desires, Becket wonders if it is even possible to escape damnation... (full context)
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power Theme Icon
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Temptation Theme Icon
After the fourth tempter finishes his proposal, all four tempters, in unison, proclaim that human life “is a cheat... (full context)
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Temptation Theme Icon
Eternity and Human Understanding Theme Icon
...proclaims that he will never again feel temptation in so overwhelming a manner as the fourth tempter ’s proposal. The fourth tempter encouraged Becket “to do the right deed for the wrong... (full context)