Lesson Plans Murder in the Cathedral

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Even now, in sordid particulars The eternal design may appear. The Priests, however, are still fearful and plead with Thomas to hide in the cloister. Throw open the doors! Unbar the door! We are not to triumph by fighting, by stratagem, or by resistance, Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast And have conquered. We have only to conquer Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory. Now is the triumph of the Cross, now Open the door! I command it. But why must God work today? At this moment? A viewer could easily understand this speech to imply that Thomas fears his not being martyred and that there are still some remnants of worldly pride clinging to his vestments.

While this may be a more cynical way to read the play, the point nonetheless seems valid—but only if that same viewer forgets a simple fact about Thomas: for all his wisdom and strength, he is still a man and still subject to the same apprehensions and doubts as everybody else. It is not surprising, then, that the very human Thomas fears the Knights will be prohibited from entering, for he has already completed a grueling process by which he has prepared himself for martyrdom.

A rain of blood has blinded my eyes. Where is England? Where is Kent? Where is Canterbury? O far far far far in the past; and I wander in a land of barren boughs: if I break them, they bleed; I wander in a land of dry stones: if I touch them, they bleed. How can I ever return, to the soft quiet seasons? No one regrets the necessity for violence more than we do. Unhappily, there are times when violence is the only way in which social justicc may be secured. At another time, you would condemn an Archbishop by vote of Parliament and execute him formally as a traitor, and no one would have to bear the burden of being called murderer.

And at a later time still, even such temperate measures as these would become unnecessary. But, if you have now arrived at a just subordination of the pretensions of the Church to the welfare of the State, remember that it is we who took the first step. We have been instrumental in bringing about the state of affairs that you approve.

We have served your interests; we merit your applause; and if there is any guilt whatever in the matter, you must share it with us. In The Plays of T.


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Eliot , David E. At most, they are like the first three Tempters in Part One: easily dismissable. Eliot has included their prose defense in order to show the gulf between men of politics and men of God—a contest in which Eliot never avoids revealing the side for whom he is rooting. For all things exist only as seen by Thee, only as known by Thee, all things exist Only in Thy light, and Thy glory is declared even in that which denies Thee; the darkness declares the glory of light.

Those who deny Thee could not deny, if Thou didst not exist; and their denial is never complete, for if it were so, they would not exist. We now acknowledge our trespass, our weakness, our fault; we acknowledge That the sin of the world is upon our heads; that the blood of the martyrs and the agony of the saints Is upon our heads. Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Blessed Thomas, pray for us. They have moved from Prufrockian doubts to Beckettian certainty and find solace in the presence of a Being that many moderns may be missing. In this review, Holloway examines why Eliot composed his chorus entirely of women. The critic theorizes that, like many martyrs, women represent birth, new life, and renewal.

She cites several examples of language and imagery that support this assertion. When Carole M. What, in the design of the play, would necessitate an all female chorus? You are foolish, immodest and babbling women. You go on croaking like frogs in the treetops: But frogs at least can be cooked and eaten. These women, however, do perform a vital function: they expand our understanding of martyrdom through a metaphor of birth.

The female chorus reminds us that both women and martyrs give birth to new life. For a woman, it is the life of her child; for a martyr, it is the life of his belief. To introduce his metaphor of birth, Eliot first shows us that both the women in the chorus and the martyr are waiting. At this point in the play, even though they are not consciously aware of waiting, intuitively they are expectant; they wait and wait. Like the expectant women, he too is waiting for the birth of the martyr. Instead, they speak metaphorically about an imminent, ominous birth:.

Thick and heavy the sky. And tie earth presses up against our feet. The earth is heaving to parturition of issue of hell. The women agonize when they realize they await the death of Thomas.

Like the expectant women, Thomas, too, suffers as he awaits his delivery. He suffers not only mentally through the temptations to his pride and power, but also physically through the pain of his death—the death that will deliver him into his heavenly birth. Eliot uses the symbol of blood to link the suffering of the martyr and the suffering of the women. Just before he sheds his own blood, Thomas notes:. Blood is not only a sign for martyrdom, it is also a sign for motherhood. If, as seems to be the case, Eliot wants to show the similarities between giving birth and the making of a martyr, then a chorus composed of women makes sense not only thematically, but also structurally.

Murder in the Cathedral Summary

After all, it is women who know best how to wait, suffer, and give birth. The critic dissects several of the speeches to prove his point. In staging T. Textually they appear as odes with no specific instructions to indicate differentiation of voices. But the first staging of the play set the precedent for assigning parts within the choral odes to individual voices or varying ensembles. The decision is in part a musical one, involving an assessment of the voices available and an orchestration of those voices to produce a pattern of sound that enhances the aural effect of the language.

Obviously, however, the arrangement of voices must also relate to the thematic development of the odes as well. We cannot separate sound and meaning. Thus, while the individual director has some freedom in designating parts of the choral speeches, the poetry itself places strictures on that freedom. What I seek to do here is to provide a reading of the choral odes which identifies the principal thematic and dramatic voices in them.

The choral ode which opens the play serves as prelude not only to the drama which follows, but also to the varying functions of the chorus and to the different voices which articulate aspects of those functions.

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The second stanza takes up the theme of helpless waiting in a somber, yet strong, mellifluous voice hereafter the first voice. New Year waits, destiny waits for the coming. The question points up the reluctance with which the women are drawn to their witness. The long third stanza opens with a querulous, almost whining voice which gives substance to that reluctance. Recognizing that the Archbishop Thomas had always been a gracious master, this second voice nonetheless regrets the possibility of his return.

For the poor, what difference does it make who rules so long as things are quiet for them? But that hope diminishes. In the opening ode, then, we have three distinct voices standing out from the general chorus, each stressing a particular dimension of the choral function. The first with its recurrent appeal to destiny emphasizes that the women are but passive witnesses; the second with its recitation of the mundane preoccupations of the poor emphasizes that they are drawn unwillingly to fulfill the role of witness; and the third with its darksome, surreal vision emphasizes the fatalism, the pessimism of their witness.

The reiteration of these voices develops the tone and consciousness of the full choral voice toward the final revelation. Thus, in the second choral ode which occurs following the arrival of the messenger who announces the return of Thomas to England, an interchange between the second and third voices impels the women to a sorrowful plea to Thomas to go back to France.

The third voice returns in a brief speech which follows the appearance of the four tempters. The premonitory sense now assumes graphic physical form—a sickly smell, a dark green cloud, the earth heaving, sticky dew—engaging all the senses. Then the full chorus joins the priests and the tempters in an alternating sequence which, with mounting anxiety, reports the omens and portents that now multiply. A choral ode follows. The second voice opens, now readier to admit the drabness and sorrow of the life of the poor which seems more partly living than living.

A wiser streak of fatalism has diluted the querulous tone of this voice. However reluctant they are to watch, they must; however much they yearn to plow their fields, to tend their hearths, to let the princes and nobles rule, they know that the very act of witnessing draws them into the maelstrom.

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Hopefulness rapidly gives way to despair as, in response to each question, the resonant first voice consistently replies in gloomy tones, invoking the sense of destiny. This exchange concludes with a long rhetorical question that reaches the level of pain that tormented the last choral speech of the first part. Having set the tone for part two, the chorus withdraws into the role of silent witness to the first encounter between Thomas and the four knights. When the knights depart with the threat to return armed, the dark and despairing third voice takes up the burden of the chorus in a long and gruesome ode.

The shift from psychic to physical portents which characterized that voice earlier culminates here in orgiastic horror. And so death comes to Thomas. Clean the sky! From the existence of evil comes the possibility of good, and from the violent death of the Archbishop comes a new saint, another saint for Canterbury, a source of solace and comfort to the poor. Source: William J. September, , pp. Bloom, Harold. Donoghue, Denis. Eliot, T.

Jeake, Samuel, Jr. Laughlin, James. Matthiessen, F. Shillito, Edward. Yeats, William Butler. Norton and Company, , p. Grant, Michael, Editor. This book collects a number of reviews of the original Canterbury Festival production of the play. There are many excerpts in this book by Eliot himself. Malamud, Randy. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

July 1, Amazon provides a free app reader for this. My 12th grade group is the most varied in terms of work drive and ability. There are students with different learning capacities. I have noticed that in group work they tend to depend on the higher-capacity learning students and at least one or two group members slack off.

In the group presentation, the slacker is the one who presents, and of course they cannot explain squat. To prevent this far-too-common occurrence, I gave each student in the class a topic to research. My original plan was to put them in groups according to topic in order to make presentations, but because time this week was limited by some unforeseen extracurricular activities, I decided to let each of them speak about their own topic in a circle discussion.

I asked students to take notes and took notes myself on what they explained, then filled in any missing gaps or corrected erroneous information. Here is a list of topics could be expanded to fit classroom size needs; also, students with lower-capacity learning skills could be paired with other students :.

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I gave each student minutes to research and used the remaining time to let the students share their findings. That way they will also be forced to pay attention to their fellow students instead of continuing to research or other activities on the sly. I also had the feeling that most students were not taking notes, but it is hard to control that when everyone is using the computer.

I also distributed the Project Assignment , which I created by combining my need for a somewhat open-ended project and my reading of the book Learner-Centered Teaching , which dramatically changed how I think about developing my class management style. View all posts by Megan. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.

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