The Three Priests: in Murder in the Cathedral.

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       The three Priests in the play are fellow members of Becket's Church. They represent, like the Chorus, the claims of humanity from without, just as the tempters represent the temptations from within. As E.M. Martin Browne remarks, "the demands of characterization, limited though they are in this play, are much subtly fulfilled than may at first be apparent."


The three priests are numbered - one, two, three. It would be easy to dismiss this numbering as done for the sake of convenience at the first reading.
The Three Priests


      The three priests are numbered - one, two, three. It would be easy to dismiss this numbering as done for the sake of convenience at the first reading. Yet it would be difficult to assign one's speech to another at random. It is clear that they are sharply individualise and their speeches bring out their particular attitudes. The first priest is an elderly, worldly-wise man, fond of his food. He is also an emotionally excitable person and easily affected by the joy or the danger of the events around him. The second priest is younger and aggressively loyal. He is also a more prosaic and reasonable person, efficient and practical in his outlook.


      The third priest is more philosophical than the other two. In the beginning he seems rather sceptical and pessimistic; but he is able to see the end of things. lt is befitting that it is he who in the end pronounces the epitaph on the knights: "Go, weak, sad men, lost, erring souls, homeless in earth or heaven." Grover Smith says that the first priest resembles the women of the Chorus the second priest typifies the potential moral strength of the knights' immoral practicality; and the third priest resembles Becket himself.

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