What is the chorus and the choric function in Murder in the Cathedral?

In Murder in the Cathedral, the chorus is made up of ordinary women of Canterbury. Although they initially do not want to be drawn into a political struggle, they later appreciate the spiritual aspects of the conflict. The choric function is to witness the events that unfold without intervening in them and to report on those events to the audience.

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In his play Murder in the Cathedral, T. S. Eliot includes a chorus, which is an element that he adapted from ancient Greek drama. In his play, which takes place in Canterbury, England, the chorus is made up of ordinary women of Canterbury. The primary conflict in the play is a religious and political struggle between the king and the archbishop. At first the chorus, speaking as a single entity, sees its interests as distinct from those high-level concerns and resists getting drawn into what it views as a political dispute. As the play progresses, the collective opinion shifts, and the chorus comes to understand that there are underlying spiritual issues that do matter in its daily life. It mourns for Becket after he is killed.

The choric function in Eliot’s play is to witness, report, and interpret. Neither the chorus as an entity not its individual members are characters in the sense of being involved in the plot. Instead, the chorus sees and hears what the other characters do, including actions that occur offstage or before the play’s events. The group as a whole then conveys those events to the audience and, if their meaning is not clear, interprets their significance. Among the key elements that the chorus explains is Becket’s prior absence and the danger that awaits him upon his return.

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