Complete summary of Jean Anouilh’s Becket. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of Becket. Becket has ratings and 80 reviews. Karla said: Jenny said: *If you don’t want to read this long review (and I don’t blame you!), skip to the as. Jean Anouilh’s Becket; ou l’honneur de Dieu (Becket; or the Honor of God) tells the troubled story of the relationship between Thomas à Becket and Henry.

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Therefore, his royal highness has a brilliant idea and nominates his companion to be the next archbishop of Canterbury. Henry is only king by virtue of both his mother and his wife. At the beginning of the movie’s DVD commentary, Peter O’Toole relates his meeting with Anouilh in Paris a few years before the film was made because he was being considered for the play.

Anouilh’s vision of Henry is one that is so replete with weakness and misgivings that in the famous reunion scene of the same act we are made to side more than ever with the apparent villain against the all too obvious hence suspicious champion of God.

The honor of God, gentlemen, is a very good thing, and taken all in all, one gains by having it on one’s side. Becket by Jean Anouilh.

Anouilh is more secular, more radical and more existentialist than either of his English contemporaries. A classic of post-war French theatre which was much loved by English audiences and was made into a film with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole in the principal roles in But it is equally important for the Church to hold the State to account for its actions. The film is based on this play and parts of it may not be anpuilh.


In his excellent recent book, Christian Faith and Modern Democracy: Are you satisfied now, Becket? When they find an attractive girl, even if smelly, in a hut in the middle of the forest, Henry wants to possess her. Canonized by the Catholic Church, St.

Yet what Anouilh hides in this maneuver bceket significant: Nevertheless, the political maneuvering continues. Both men employ tactics to advance their ideologies. As Matilda’s son, Henry has a legitimate claim on the throne of England, a throne that has been the subject of a bitter civil war between Matilda’s followers aanouilh King Stephen.

Becket, for example, is brave and courageous. At times, Anouilh’s commercial popularity has worked against his reputation as a significant literary figure. Driver quizzed in the Nov. Together, we might have made a world of progress Between us, by our three variants of human nature, You and Becket and me, we could have been The complete reaching forward.

Thus, Anouilh seems to tell the reader, the only powerful woman is a dead one. Yet this is surely a deliberate and perverse reading of anouiilh historical background. There are a few moments from the play that I wish had made it into the movie for the sake of the characterizations, but for the most part the movie is bec,et spectacular adaptation that improves on the source material.

Anouilh’s construction of his male characters is far more complicated and ultimately problematic. In particular, he wants the men responsible for the slaying of a monk tried in the ecclesiastical court rather than the royal court. In effect he seems to be saying, as did Bob Dylan, “you gotta serve somebody” and he’s decided to serve the King.

Becket by Jean Anouilh | : Books

The King of England, by indirect order, is ultimately responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket. He does not anouklh himself, however, to be a man of honor. He is no less a martyr for the dubiousness of his cause. Yet both writers have conservative world-views. The play is, then, a re-orchestration of the familiar modern theme of man’s need of man and search for the other, culminating, just as inevitably as in most contemporary works, with the seeker’s utter and complete loneliness.


In agreeing to accept a being prior to existence, they seem less existentialist than Anouilh, Sartre, and their French contemporaries. England has just survived the Second World War without occupation. The king uses the Church, but the Church uses the king better. This does not mean that homosexuality did not exist; rather, it beckeet that homosexuality was simply not a topic of conversation. Though Anouilh enjoyed both popular and critical success during the s, his work fell from anohilh favor in the later s and grew increasingly conservative.

Becket stoutly refused, maintaining that the trial and punishment of clerics falls under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts.

Becket, or the Honor of God Summary & Study Guide

One might think Becket would be amply rewarded for his good deeds. In the final scene of the play, which is, of course a return to the first scene, Henry is whipped by Bec,et monks.

Though more accessible, Anouilh’s version of the story is probably less well known in English than Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral.