Murder in the Cathedral


T. S. Eliot

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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 in defense of the knights’ own moral integrity in order to prevent them from being perceived as villains by the audience. De Traci says that the knights had nothing to gain from Becket’s murder—they’re “not getting a penny out of this,” and the act will bring them no benefits: they’ll likely be forced to spend the remainder of their lives outside of England, exiled. De Traci ends his speech by underscoring the knights’ totally disinterested involvement in the murder. They did not want to kill Becket—they just wanted him to comply with the orders of the king.

Second Knight (William de Traci) Quotes in Murder in the Cathedral

The Murder in the Cathedral quotes below are all either spoken by Second Knight (William de Traci) or refer to Second Knight (William de Traci). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt edition of Murder in the Cathedral published in 1964.
Part 2 Quotes

It is not I who insult the King. . .
It is not against me, Becket, that you strive.
It is not Becket who pronounces doom,
But the Law of Christ’s Church, the judgement of Rome.

Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
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Second Knight (William de Traci) Character Timeline in Murder in the Cathedral

The timeline below shows where the character Second Knight (William de Traci) appears in Murder in the Cathedral. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2
Fate and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon
...soiling Henry II’s reputation in the eyes of the French king and the Pope. The second knight adds that the king, out of charity, offered clemency despite all of this, and the... (full context)
Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power Theme Icon
Loyalty and Guilt Theme Icon defense of their decision to murder Becket, and that he’ll introduce each one. The second knight , William de Traci, says that the knights had absolutely no incentive to kill Becket... (full context)