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The chorus plays several purpose in 'Murder In The Cathedral'. It is an unspecified number of Canterbury's women, is a corporate character serving the same purposes as does the chorus in Greek drama: to develop and, more importantly, to comment on the action of the play. The women's initial speech fairly defines their dramaturgic role: "We are forced to bear witness." And yet this chorus, like its ancient Greek predecessors, is no mere, dispassionate, objective "eyewitness"; rather, it is a witness bearing testimony to truth-almost as in a legal proceeding, but that analogy fails to capture the nature of the testimony the chorus offers. In commenting upon the action of Thomas Becket's murder, the women are voicing insights into, reflections on, and conclusions about time, destiny, and life and death. In the end, they emerge as representatives of ordinary people-such as those who make up the audience of the play, or its readership-people who, mired in and having settled for an existence of "living and partly living," are unable to greet transcendence when it is offered to them. As they state in the play's final moments, not everyone can bear the "loneliness. surrender. deprivation" necessary to become a saint. Not all can be saints-but all can pray for their intercession.
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