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In Murder of the Cathedral are there any political comparisons?

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chelseabug | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2009 at 2:01 AM via web

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In Murder of the Cathedral are there any political comparisons?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 21, 2013 at 6:23 AM (Answer #1)

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The political comparison that is clear from this play is the temptation of power and the battle that occurs when different parties believe that they have the most power and should be obeyed. This is the history behind the animosity between Thomas Becket and King Henry II, and the resulting murder of Thomas Becket is a direct result of the way he challenged his king's power and felt that as God's representative, he has greater power than Henry II did. Note how this theme is developed in the following quote concerning the evils of ambition:

Ambition fortifies the will of man to become ruler over other men: it operates with deception, cajolery, and violence, it is the action of impurity upon impurity.

Ambition is a force that is definitely at work in Henry II and Thomas Becket, though Thomas himself faces a massive internal conflict to try and keep his desire to resist the will of his king pure and untainted by personal ambition and a desire to gain glory and status for himself. The political comparisons of such a situation are manifold. Consider, for example, the battle for power between the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Chancellor, Gordon Brown, both of whom thought they deserved the top spot. The message from this play is clearly relevant for any age, as it concerns the deceitful nature of power and how it can transform good men into men who care for little else accept bolstering their own position.

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