Flesh vs. Spirit
Throughout Murder in the Cathedral, Thomas is warned about the danger of his remaining in Canterbury and the threat of danger from his enemies, who seek to please King Henry by murdering him. Before he enters, the Chorus begs,' '0 Thomas return, Archbishop; return, return to France," for he comes "bringing death into Canterbury"; when he does arrive, Thomas tells them and the three Priests that none should fear his possible death, for "the hungry hawk / Will only soar and hover'' until there is an "End" that will be "simple, sudden, God-given." The very fact of his return suggests Thomas's refusal to fear death and belief that God will decide whether he will live or die: as he tells the Priests, "All things prepare the event."
Thomas's disregard for earthly pleasures and power is heightened during his conversations with the first three Tempters. When the First Tempter offers him "wit and wine and wisdom" if he will only "Be easy" in his condemnation of King Henry, Thomas calls his temptations a mere "springtime fancy" belonging to "seasons of the past." When the next Tempter urges him to take up again the Chancellorship and "guide the state again," Thomas argues that "what was once exaltation / Would now only mean descent" to a "punier power," since, as an Archbishop, he is able to "keep the keys / Of heaven and hell." "To condemn kings, not serve among their servants,'' he explains, is his "open office."...
(The entire section is 1147 words.)
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