Murder in the Cathedral Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Why does Beckett believe that the local bishops would not support a power move like regaining his Chancellorship?

2. "The wheel" is spoken of time and time again. In one instance Becket says that "Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns." What is the idea of a wheel supposed to symbolize?

3. What does the Messenger say were the last words of Thomas Becket to the King of England before the Archbishop's exile?

4. What does the First Tempter predict for Becket if he does not "leave well alone?"

5. Who does the Third Tempter represent?

Short Essay Questions

1. What seems to be Becket's hubris that many characters mention and the Tempters attempt to play upon?

2. How do the Priests define the meaning of "to-day?"

3. What does Becket mean when he states to the Priests, "The moment foreseen may be unexpected when it arrives?"

4. What is life like for the Chorus of women in Canterbury?

5. After the temptations, what do the Priests want Becket to do? Why?

6. What is the meaning of the urgency behind the Knight's demands upon entering the scene?

7. Was Thomas Becket prepared for his temptations?

8. What is the importance of the banners that the Priests enter with and the mention of all of Saints?

9. Taking into consideration the many opportunities to escape his fate, his many followers begging him to change course, and Becket's own prideful nature, why would Becket choose the path of martyrdom?

10. How does Becket believe a martyr should be defined?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

The Chorus often references their inability to act. At one point during their speech regarding the "death-bringers", they even go so far as to use words like "mastered," "subdued" and "violated." How does the chorus tie the idea of helplessness to the idea of being violated?

1) Do you believe Eliot illustrates a feminist or anti-feminist perspective in the characterization of the Chorus and their words?

2) Cite examples from the Chorus' speeches. What maintains their subordination throughout the play?

3) How do these women reflect our feelings as an audience?

Essay Topic 2

In Part II, the Fourth Knight states that "there are times when violence is the only way social justice can be secured." They have just killed an important political figure to bring about what they perceive to be order, and they believe it to be justified.

1) Can you see the Knight's point of view on this matter? Explain why they may or may not be justified in their actions.

2) Use an important historic event that you believe parallels the Knights belief. Look at the details of such events as the 1968 Democratic National Convention or the Rodney King riots. You may even use examples of executions and the death penalty (i.e. The hanging of Saddam Hussein). Compare your example to that of the murder of Thomas Becket. Looking at your evidence, do you believe that violence can bring about a peaceful end?

Essay Topic 3

Becket once enjoyed the perks of exercising power in a major political office. One of Becket's major vices is his pride. By his entrance into the world of Murder in the Cathedral, Becket forgoes secular power to the power of the Church's law, the law of the Pope and the law of God. A major theme throughout Murder in the Cathedral is the Battle between the church and the state.

1) Using examples from the text, how did King Henry II and Thomas Becket conjoin politics and religion? How effective were their actions?

2) Historically, what are some examples of the politics of government interfering in the affairs of the church (and vice versa)? Compare these examples to the themes of the play.

(see the answer keys)

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