Why is T. S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" called a poetic play?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The first reason why T. S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" is called a poetic play is that it is written in poetry rather than prose. There are many other qualities, though, that make it “poetic”.

Drama originally was written in verse. From Greek tragedies through the great plays of Shakespeare, verse was the standard literary form for plays. In the 18th and 19th century, realistic plays written in prose came to dominate the theatre, taking the place of more stylized poetic dramas.

In “Murder in the Cathedral”, Eliot was not only attempting to revive use of verse forms, but also to break away from the predominantly realistic style of his immediate predecessors and revive a more ritualistic and allusive mode of presentation, with language that was evocative rather than purely representational.


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