Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. Having just returned from France, where he has gained the support of the pope in his attempt to achieve both temporal and spiritual power in England, he finds a mixed reaction among the people. Although some support him, others would gladly see him dead. He is faced with a dilemma that leaves him no alternative but to sin against his faith. After his murder, he achieves martyrdom and sainthood, which his accusers say he was seeking all along.
Three priests of the cathedral
Three priests of the cathedral, who fear the outcome of Becket’s return. They express the pessimism felt by everyone.
The first tempter
The first tempter, who offers worldly pleasure and success.
The second tempter
The second tempter, who offers temporal power through negation of spiritual authority.
The third tempter
The third tempter, who offers the support of a faction wishing to overthrow the throne.
The fourth tempter
The fourth tempter, who offers martyrdom and eternal glory. Becket denies all the tempters.
Reginald Fitz Urse
Reginald Fitz Urse,
William de Traci
William de Traci,
Hugh de Morville
Hugh de Morville, and
Richard Brito, the knights who murder Becket. They defend their action on the grounds that they will not benefit from their deed, that Becket had refused to acknowledge the king’s supremacy, and that he was egotistical to the point of insanity.
The women of Canterbury
The women of Canterbury, who act as the chorus of classical drama.