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Analysis of Murder in the Cathedral Essay example

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Murder in the Cathedral is a two-part, verse drama, tragedy play written in 1935 by Thomas Stearns Eliot, also known by his pen name as T. S. Eliot. It joined many similar writings in the year of 1170 when Archbishop Thomas á Becket was assassinated in the cathedral at Canterbury by four knights ordered by King Henry II following Becket’s rejection of the King’s new marriage (Trudeau 2). Eliot’s most famous works including The Waste Land (1922) and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) were in the past, and a new style of writing would emerge from the more pensive, older Eliot. This type of writing revolved around Christianity and religion, and included mostly plays that lacked the quality of his world-renowned poems. Eliot’s impact on twentieth-century literature is undeniably one of great magnitude; however, Murder in the Cathedral, while still laudable and celebrated among its peers, marked the beginning of the end of his reputable and impressive career.
T. S. Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888 as the youngest of seven children. His father was president of the Hydraulic Brick Press Company, his mother a teacher, social worker, and writer (Trudeau 1). Despite his family’s strict religious beliefs, Eliot grew up a skeptic and an agnostic. Soon he left his hometown to attend Harvard University, studying French literature and philosophy. After a graduate school at several universities, a failed marriage, a nervous breakdown, and the publishing of his most famous work The Waste Land, Eliot made some major changes. He transferred to Anglicanism and became a British citizen, both possibly being big reasons for his change in writing style (Trudeau 1). Eliot died in 1965 of emphysema.
Eliot’s grandfather was a Unita...


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...976. 167-8.
Maccoby, H. Z. “Two Notes on Murder in the Cathedral.” Notes and Queries XIV (1967):
253-5. Rpt. in Twentieth Century Interpretations of ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’ Ed.
David R. Clark. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971. 93-6.
Pearson, Gabriel. “Eliot: An American Use of Symbolism.” Eliot in Perspective: A Symposium
(1970): 83-101. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Vol. 13.
Detroit: Gale, 1980. 192-96.
Smith, Grover. T. S. Eliot’s Poetry and Plays: A Study in Sources and Meaning (1950): 180-195.
Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Eds. Sharon R. Gunton and Laurie Lanzen
Harris. Vol. 15. Detroit: Gale, 1980. 206-10.
Spender, Stephen. “Poetic Drama.” Penguin Modern Masters: T. S. Eliot (1975). Rpt. in T. S.
Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’ Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1988. 87-94.



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