’s Honor Essay, Research Paper
Becket s honor
Thomas a Becket was a truly noble martyr who lived with and died for honor. Thomas Becket s stubbornness and rigorous demand for honor sealed his death. Throughout the book Becket is forced to compromise or hold tight to his beliefs and values.
As a friend to King Henry II Becket felt that there was a gap in him where honor should be. Becket felt that as long as he was among the conquerors he would have to improvise his honor. There is foreshadowing in the end of act one, that if Becket meets his honor face to face, he will be forced to go against King Henry. The Saxons, of which Becket descended, had been conquered by the people he is friends with. He felt for that he could have no honor.
Thomas Becket, as Chancellor of England, feels that he is incapable of love and honor. Becket finds the barons idea of honor to be ridiculous. Becket believed, then, that honor was not in how you fought but only if you won. Honor came solely in victory. There was no honor in following the rules of battle only to be slain. Becket believed that being successful was honorable in its self.
The barons were filled with jealousy for Becket. They saw him as less than a man, a Saxon. They were idiotic hypocrites who believed there was no honor in killing a fallen knight, but there was in slaughtering the lot of innocent villagers. Beside Becket, their hypocritical traits were magnified and one could clearly see how ridiculous there views were.
Becket did not wish to become the Primate of England. He pleaded with King Henry not to appoint him Archbishop. Once he became Archbishop he changed to a very calm and gentle person. He began to pursue honor with an unshakeable conviction. Thomas Becket first thinks it may be possible to serve both God and England, but soon realizes that Gods honor is unyielding. Becket says that he must defend the honor of God because it is as vulnerable as a boy-king fleeing from danger. He believed that he was a man without honor and now he has found the honor that he never imagined could become his. He has attained the incomprehensible honor of God. Becket pleads with King Henry at their meeting and begs him to in all save the honor of God and he will agree to the other nine articles. Becket will give as much as he deems possible so long as the honor of God is not compromised.
Thomas Becket lived in a prime example of one of Anouilh s reasonable society. Everyone around Becket, not just the commoners, was weak and hypocritical. There values and honor had been tarnished by compromise and corruption. Even the Pope could forfeit his honor for three thousand silver marks. Neither the King of France, Louise, nor the King of England, Henry, had purity and principle. King Louise will remember his honor whenever it suites him best, and King Henry uses his power for personal pleasure. The people around Becket constantly try to get him to compromise his honor and use his position corruptly.
The complex problem of wether the character changes the position he holds or does the position change the character can be argued both ways. There is a common belief that power corrupts. In the case of King Henry that idea is true. He uses his power chiefly to get women and to do numerous other immoral deeds. Did King Henry take a position that was good and corrupt it, or did the power of the position corrupt King Henry? It is possible that one might think a little of both happened. With Thomas Becket though, the case is different. The power of the position helped him begin to realize the true concept of honor, the honor of God. The position enabled him to grasp the honor of God. The King, however, originally had hoped that Becket would change the position to suit his personal needs. By making Thomas Becket Archbishop he inadvertently destroyed the only loving relationship he had. Thomas Becket s honor would not allow him to serve both King Henry and God. If he was the Archbishop, he believed he was going to try to be the best Archbishop he could. The only way to achieve that, was to serve God solely.
Thomas a Becket, at the moment of his death, realizes how heavy the honor is too bare. His death ultimately opened King Henry s eyes. King Henry finally realized that the honor of God is a good thing. King Henry made it his personal mission to defend the memory of Thomas a Becket and the honor of God from that day forward. It took Thomas Becket a lifetime to find the honor of God and to realize that it was worth dying for.