Friday, November 29, "Becket" by Jean Anouilth. In the play Becket by Jean Anouilth, a chancellor-turned Archbishop by the constitute of Thomas Becket is severely tested. However, this is no ordinary test.
Much like his Antigone, this play takes an already-familiar story and reimagines it to tell the story that Anouilh wants to tell. He dreamed of resuscitating the Europe of old. His famous slogan, Europe "from the Atlantic to the Urals," conspicuously left out Britain, a country that aided in liberating France from the Germans paraphrased from Wikipedia.
The monk refuses to speak to Becket in French, answering his questions in English. Becket understands the monk, but he continues speaking in French. His is a French king of French and English ancestry, sitting on the English throne, and Becket serves this king.
When Becket must leave the country because of his conflict with the king, he runs to France, of course. In Rome, the Pope and one of his Cardinals discuss the problems between France and England with "bad Italian accents," according to the stage directionsincluding Becket, and eventually come up with a scheme to resolve the issues by duping both countries.
The Pope makes the claim that both France and England have "a long arm" and that Rome must balance the two.
The historical inspiration and background are that Henry II was a Norman, born to a French father and an English mother. His mother helped him contest the throne of England, to which she had a right as the daughter of Henry I.
The main tension between Henry and Becket was that Becket was a clergyman, and his duty and desire were to strengthen the power of the Church, while Henry wanted to strengthen the power of the Crown.
When Becket became Archbishop and took the part of Saxon monks, Henry was not pleased.
The tension between Normans conquerors and Saxons conquered and the tension between the Church and the Crown are the major conflicts in the play.
Becket, above all else, values order. Without order, nothing endures. When Henry wants to tax the Church for not sending their men out to fight, the bishops originally say no but eventually give in.
Becket tells Henry that they only give in because the power of one king is temporary compared with the centuries of power the Church has established. The king uses the Church, but the Church uses the king better. Henry says to Becket: What Anouilh adds to the political and historical backdrops is the story of two friends, one who loves the other unconditionally and one who loves his duty and his honor above all else.
Le Roi and Becket are foils for each other.
But the king can be vapid, clueless even, and Becket is all intelligence. He does whatever the king says, always calling him ironically "mon prince. Once Becket makes his decision, though, he sticks to it.
He says, "Tenir la barre du bateau" take the helm of the boat. He thinks that he and Henry can work this out, that Henry can accept the wind beating against his boat and let it knock the boat about sometimes. Ultimately, the two split for good.
Despite his refusal to bend, Henry defends Becket to the end and refuses to hear anyone talk badly about him. This play is very wide in scope. A very good play; interesting and thought provoking as well as entertaining.
I highly recommend it!Essays and criticism on Jean Anouilh's Becket - Critical Essays. Becket, based on play by Jean Anouilh and translated by Lucienne Hill Becket is a spectacular, effervescent, triumphant, delightful, ecstatic, masterful motion picture.
It was nominated for a formidable Twelve Academy Awards and that includes the most prestigious ones:4/5. Complete summary of Jean Anouilh's Antigone. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Antigone. Jean Anouilh Characters Thomas Becket.
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