Murder in the Cathedral

analyse the ideas of martyrdom in the play The Murder in the Cathedral

qualities to be a true martyr

was thomas eligible to be a martyr

quotations realted to martyrdom from the text

was thomas' death is to be taken as that of a martyr


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One of the most explicit philosophies Eliot explores is what constitutes a true Christian martyr. As Thomas explains in his Interlude sermon, a martyr is not merely one who dies for God, but rather one who allows himself to be "the instrument of God" (199). He argues that a martyr is not made by accident, but rather by God's will. Thomas's journey in Part I is marked by his acceptance that he wants to seek martyrdom for the sake of his pride and worldly glory, and his subsequent willingness to rid himself of those desires and to die solely for God's cause. Further, the play explores martyrdom in terms of how it impacts the true believers who come afterward. The chorus must come to terms with the fact that a martyr's death saddles them with a burden to validate the sacrifice through their own lives. In many ways, a true martyr must die as Christ did – because God wills it – and those Christians who follow are expected to subsume their own lives in service of God for that reason.