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Compare And Contrast Thomas Becket And Job

According To The Hero Journey Essay, Research Paper

The archetypal hero journey, Joseph Campbell states, is a typical series of heroic actions. Four stages form the hero journey: departure, trials, epiphany, and return (the stages do not necessarily occur consecutive with the listing). Death and resurrection of lifestyle and beliefs, spiritual journey, and finally rebirth form hero journey s motif. An archetypal hero pattern is the transformation of the character s conscience through trials

and revelations. Lust, fear, and social duties tend to be the main trials heroes face. Campbell defines a hero as a character who overcomes his trials and gives his life to something superior to himself–committed extraordinary deeds. There are two types of heroes. The physical hero gives himself to rescue someone s physical life or well-being; the spiritual hero returns to enlighten his people and, therefore, spare them misfortune or disastrous situations. Such characters enable the author to aid the reader in perceiving the positive aspects of negative situations and vice versa. Joseph Campbell s hero journey outline provides an understanding for the paths heroes take pertaining to their specific circumstances.

Two characters that follow the hero journey are Job of the wisdom books of the Old Testament and Murder in the Cathedral s Thomas Becket. Job is a fortunate and distinctively devout man. Satan wants to prove to God Job s faith will falter if his blessings are obliterated. Satan creates an agonizing event sequence Job must suffer through. Job s children, livestock, land, and health are taken away from him, and his comforters–three friends and a wife–believe Job deserves the turmoil and tell him he must repent his sins to regain his splendor. Becoming frustrated with the increasing agony he must endure, Job questions God s actions but retains his faith. Thomas Becket s story

begins when King Henry II has trouble prosecuting church clergy under England s law since the church they should try clergymen. Believing Becket will be a government ally, Henry appoints Becket (then King Henry s chancellor) Archbishop. Becket finds the church has the right to try its, and holds God s will above the king s. Murder in the Cathedral begins with Becket, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, returning to England. Becket has been hiding from King Henry II since his dispute with Henry caused his fleeing from England seven years ago. Becket is pressured to make a fate-determining decision. After contemplating several tempters propositions, Becket realizes his way is

apparent. Ultimately, Becket passively protests and is murdered for his beliefs. Job and Thomas Becket follow the archetypal hero journey; but the paths the characters follow are not always comparable.

Job s departure is a lifestyle departure. Living his life splendidly fulfilled, Job s life is suddenly a desolate, horrid mortality. First, savage thieves take Job s livestock and servants, a fire claims his children, and finally his health deteriorates. Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes. (Job 3:25-26) This dismal new condition leaves Job

frustrated and confused, but he maintains his faith.

Thomas Becket has two departures. The first is a physical departure–Becket physically leaves the stage during a period of deep introspection following the four tempters propositions. After physically exiting, Becket actually acquires his second, spiritual departure. The spiritual departure Becket undergoes is not stated directly, but occurs while Becket is off stage. Becket s spiritual departure occurs when he separates material, worldly values from spiritual, moral values, and the realizes he can live without the worldly values, but not without the expression of his spiritual values. Determining his

life s significant elements, Becket decides his earthly fate.

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:

Temptation shall not come in this kind again.

(Eliot 44)

I know that history at all times draws

The strangest consequence from remotest cause.

But for every evil, every sacrilege,

Crime, wrong, oppression and the axe s edge,

Indifference, exploitation, you, and you,

And you, must all be punished. so must you.

I shall no longer act or suffer, to the sword s end.

Now my good Angel, whom God appoints

To be my guardian, hover over the swords points.

(Eliot 45-46)

Becket realizes he must stop acting and allow God s will to guide him. His old lifestyle is retired, and, like Job, Becket enters a new lifestyle–stoical, and morally poised.

Job faces three trial conglomerations: curses, comforters, and unanswered inquisitions. The curses he deals with cause Job extensive agony: he loses his livestock, servants, children, and health. Although his physical health and social stature have diminished, Job s faith never wavers. The comforters, three friends and a wife, offer Job advice they presume will end his anguish. The friends believe, to be so cursed, Job has sinned horribly and they tell him he must repent his sins so God will forgive him. Job knows he has not sinned and, therefore, does not deserve the torment brought upon him.

Since they cannot console him and only increase his frustration, Job desires his friends absence.

I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all. Have

windy words no limit? Or what provokes you that you keep on talking? I

also could talk as you do, if you were in my place; I could join words

together against you, and shake my head at you. I could encourage you

with my mouth, and the solace of my lips would assuage your pain. (Job


Job would find some relief if God would explain why Job must endure such suffering when dreadful sinners suffer no worldly punishment, but God is unresponsive. Job becomes increasingly frustrated with his condition because he knows he has not sinned, but God does not relieve Job s pain until Job has suffered a lengthy duration.

“know then that God has put me in the wrong, and closed his net around

me. Even when I cry out, Violence! I am not answered; I call aloud, but

there is no justice. He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass, and he

has set darkness upon my paths. (Job 19:6-8)

Thomas Becket s trials are four callers offering advice, like Job s comforters. The four people are tempters staged as characters for the play but actually symbolize Becket s inner conflicts. The first tempter speaks about the past when Becket and King Henry II were friends. This tempter believes Becket should save a once cherished relationship and make peace with Henry. Salvaging an old friendship is not an adequate price for the disposal of Becket s moral values, Becket dismisses this tempter quickly. The second

tempter proposes Becket resign as Archbishop and become the King s chancellor again. Becket finds the Archbishop the most satisfying position and becoming the King s chancellor again would ruin Becket–his reputation will be devastated and he will be living against all he finds significant. After giving himself to the church, becoming a law administrator will ruin all Becket has been working to achieve, and his indecisiveness will cause suspicion among the church and government officials. The third tempter suggests allying with a different nation s king since Becket s relationship King Henry II is already

destroyed. This will increase the power of a nation partial to the church and King Henry will be overruled. Becket, however, does not wish to ruin Henry. Becket easily rejects the first three tempters, implying he has already pondered what their ideas offer and decides propositions are insufficient. The fourth tempter is unexpected. Becket is perplexed by this tempter s suggestion indicating he has not pondered this tactic and another option startles him. The fourth tempter suggests Becket purposely die a soldier for the church so he will be remembered forever as a martyr. Becket realizes this is the

right course but the wrong reason. The only choice left is death, but death a of passive protest to aid the church, not a death guaranteeing Becket martyrdom. After self-debate and reasoning, Becket finally dismisses the fourth tempter.

The last temptation is the greatest treason:

To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

The natural vigour in the venial sin

Is the way in which out lives begin.

(Eliot 44)

The fourth tempter is the hardest tempter for Becket to overcome, but this tempter also leads Becket into his epiphany.

Job continuously interrogates God with the righteousness of Job s condition, and, finally, God answers Job. God fulfills Job s necessity to comprehend the justification of his afflictions.

Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me. I

had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;

therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5-6)

Job s physical and worldly losses are restored and are of multiple magnitude than before his agonizing ordeals. His family and friends, who had shunned the wretched Job, begin celebrating his heartiness and show sympathy and comfort for all the evil the Lord had brought on Job. The Lord then blessed Job with an extensive, prosperous life. Seven sons, three daughters, fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand oxen, and a thousand donkeys were counted as Job s blessings.

Thomas Becket has an epiphany during his physical departure and fulfills his need for a resolution. When Becket enters the stage after his departure, he states his way is clear. Becket has reasoned the only way he can be satisfied with his life is allowing God to guide him. Becket chooses to be stoical; he believes God has a plan for him and must allow God s will.

You argue by results, as this world does,

To settle if an act be good or bad.

You defer to the fact. For every life and every act

Consequence of good and evil can be shown.

And as in time results of many deeds are blended

So good and evil in the end become confounded.

It is not in time that my decision is taken

If you call that decision

To which my whole being gives consent.

I give my life

To the Law of God above the Law of Man.

(Eliot 73-74)

Job s return is his prayers for his three friends. God punishes the three friends for their faulty advice and orders Job to pray for them so God could forgive them. Through prayer, Job helps his friends complete their penance. Thomas Becket s return is his sermon. Becket is teaching his parishioners they can rejoice and be sorrowful at the same time, and this way, after he dies, his people will realize even though he has died and they

may be sorrowful because they have lost their leader, they should rejoice because he is finally at peace. I would have you keep in your heart these words that I say, and think of them at another time. (Eliot 50) Using Jesus words My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. , Becket points out peace as Jesus states it does not mean in these terms, but the soul s peace when the body physically dies. Becket preaches this topic so he can feel assured his people will not be completely sorrowful when they lose their Archbishop. After speaking with his congregation, Becket is prepared for his death. Both Job and Becket return to their people in prayer.

Joseph Campbell s hero journey interpretation outlines the sequences of Job s and Thomas Becket s heroic circumstances. Each character progresses through the hero journey stages even though they do not necessarily follow the pattern. Job and Becket have similarities in their journeys: both experience a lifestyle alteration, are met with four advisors, and return to their people prayerful and matured; but the processes the characters journey through are distinctly different. Both Becket and Job fit Campbell s hero definition: one who overcomes his trials and gives himself to a superior being. Both

Job and Becket overcome their trials and give themselves to God. The two characters are categorized as spiritual heroes because they return sharing their spiritual findings with others. Job and Thomas Becket are spiritual heroes who successfully fulfill every phase of the hero journey Joseph Campbell outlines.

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