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Vatel's noble virtues contrast with the corrupted mortals of high social status. Beginning in the early s, employment in domestic service occupations began a sharp overall decline in western European countries, and even more markedly in the United States. Following varied shifts and changes accompanying accelerated globalization beginning in the late s, overall global demand for butlers since the turn of the millennium has risen dramatically. The most immediate cause for this rise is that the number of millionaires and billionaires has increased in recent years, and such people are finding that they desire assistance in managing their households.

The number of wealthy in China has particularly increased, creating in that country a high demand for professional butlers. In , Buckingham Palace announced for the first time that it was actively recruiting females for the position. Which brings us to "gender and butling". Butlers have traditionally been male, and this remains the norm. In it Smith quotes a certain Sydney Smith who had apparently run into lean times: "A man servant was too expensive, so I caught up a little garden girl, made like a milestone, christened her Bunch, put a napkin in her hand, and made her my butler.

The girls taught her to read, Mrs. Sydney to wait, and I undertook her morals. Bunch became the best butler in the country. Western female celebrities may also prefer a female butler where the wife is driving the decision to hire a butler. In ancient times, the roles leading to butling were reserved for those confined within heredity-based class structures. In the medieval era butling became an opportunity for social advancement, even more so during Victorian times.

Butling today has frequently taken over many of the roles formerly reserved for lower ranking domestic servants. At the same time, it has become a potentially lucrative career option. The Victorian era corresponds with the reign of Queen Victoria in England from to The period is beloved for its attention to high morals, modesty and proper decorum, as inspired by the Queen and her husband, Prince Albert.

The Victorian era was also an optimistic time in which scientific and industrial invention thrived. Developments in printing produced a proliferation of Victorian scrap art, cards, and magazines. The importance placed on civic conscience and social responsibility engendered notable developments toward gender and racial equality, such as the legal abolishment of slavery in Britain and in America. In addition, humanitarian and religious organizations such as the Salvation Army reflected the Victorian concern for the poor and needy of the period.

Poverty was overwhelming. In , when the British population was 38 million and every middle-class home had at least one servant, there were 1. Even a modestly prosperous household could expect to retain the services of a general domestic servant, and mostly these were young single women. In fact, right up until the start of the First World War, domestic service was the largest single occupation for women. However, it was fading in popularity by The hours worked were very long, the work was arduous and often lonely and it did not provide the freedom which was available to factory and shop workers.

Large households could expect to employ dozens of servants. From the beginning of slavery in America, in the early s, African Americans were also put to work as domestic servants inside plantations. Some eventually became butlers. Gary Puckrein, a social historian, argues that those used in particularly affluent homes authentically internalized the sorts of "refined" norms and personal attributes that would reflect highly upon the social stature of their masters or mistresses.

One of the first books written and published through a commercial U. The book, The House Servant's Directory , first published in , is essentially a manual for butlers and waiters, and is called by Puckrein "the most remarkable book by an African American in antebellum America". The book generated such interest that a second edition was published in , and a third in A modern reprint is available.

When the President says he wants cocktails and dinner at 8, he gets cocktails and dinner at 8, even if the kitchen staff has to be tracked down by the Washington D. President Truman had been enjoying a relaxing family weekend in Independence, Missouri when he first learned that North Korea had invaded South Korea. This knowledge prompted him to fly back to Washington on June 25, , and order a dinner meeting. The problem was the kitchen staff had taken the afternoon off because the First Family was out of town.

Alonzo Fields, chief butler for the White House, was called at 4 p. Fields planned the menu on the drive over to the Blair House the President's residence at the time while the White House was being renovated after mentally surveying the on-hand ingredients. He also enlisted the help of the Washington D. For more than three decades Eugene Allen, a black man unknown to the headlines, worked in the White House as butler. During some of those years, harsh segregation laws lay upon the land. Allen trekked home every night, where his wife, Helene, kept him out of her kitchen.

At the White House, he worked closer to the dirty dishes than the large desk in the Oval Office. Allen didn't care; she just beamed with pride. President Truman called him Gene, while President Ford liked to talk golf with him. He saw eight presidential administrations come and go, often working six days a week.

His is a story from the back pages of history. A figure in the tiniest of print; the man in the kitchen. He was there while America's racial history was being remade: the Little Rock school crisis, the March on Washington, the cities burning, the civil rights bills, the assassinations. When he started at the White House in , he couldn't even use the public restrooms when he ventured back to his native Virginia. Allen, 89, recalled of black America at the time. Allen worked as a waiter at a resort in Virginia, and then at a country club in Washington. In , a lady told Mr.

Allen of a job opening in the White House. A remarkable movie indeed. Readers of historical novels are familiar with some of the servants that large houses employed to do all the work required to keep the place running smoothly. Some had an army of outdoor servants gardeners, gamekeepers, and grooms and an equally large army of indoor servants.

The number and kinds of servants varied depending on the social status of the employer and the size of the estate. Male servants ranked above female servants and non-liveried servants. Those who did not wear uniforms ranked above those servants who did. The highest ranking male servant who in some ways was more a professional employee than a true servant , was the Land Steward.

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He was often the son of a minister or businessman. Some Land Stewards were attorneys and had their own homes and own businesses on the side. The Land Steward was the manager of the estate. He hired and fired workers, settled tenant complaints, saw to the harvesting of crops, managed the timber, collected the rents and kept all the financial records. Very wealthy men with more than one estate had several Land Stewards.

A few, very wealthy homes employed a House Steward. The House Steward was an administrative position. Following, then, the order of nature, let us begin with the principles which come first. Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also and Dithyrambic poetry, and the music of the flute and of the lyre in most of their forms, are all in their general conception modes of imitation. They differ, however, from one another in three respects—the medium, the objects, the manner or mode of imitation, being in each case distinct.

There is another art which imitates by means of language alone, and that either in prose or verse—which verse, again, may either combine different meters or consist of but one kind—but this has hitherto been without a name. For there is no common term we could apply to the mimes of Sophron and Xenarchus and the Socratic dialogues on the one hand; and, on the other, to poetic imitations in iambic, elegiac, or any similar meter.

Even when a treatise on medicine or natural science is brought out in verse, the name of poet is by custom given to the author; and yet Homer and Empedocles have nothing in common but the meter, so that it would be right to call the one poet, the other physicist rather than poet.

There are, again, some arts which employ all the means above mentioned—namely, rhythm, tune, and meter. Such are Dithyrambic and Nomic poetry, and also Tragedy and Comedy; but between them originally the difference is, that in the first two cases these means are all employed in combination, in the latter, now one means is employed, now another. Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or a lower type for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences , it follows that we must represent men either as better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are.

It is the same in painting Polygnotus depicted men as nobler than they are, Pauson as less noble, Dionysius drew them true to life. Now it is evident that each of the modes of imitation above mentioned will exhibit these differences, and become a distinct kind in imitating objects that are thus distinct. Such diversities may be found even in dancing, flute-playing, and lyre-playing. So again in language, whether prose or verse unaccompanied by music. The same thing holds good of Dithyrambs and Nomes; here too one may portray different types, as Timotheus and Philoxenus differed in representing their Cyclopes.

The same distinction marks off Tragedy from Comedy; for Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life. There is still a third difference—the manner in which each of these objects may be imitated. For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration—in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged—or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us. These, then, as we said at the beginning, are the three differences which distinguish artistic imitation—the medium, the objects, and the manner.

So that from one point of view, Sophocles is an imitator of the same kind as Homer—for both imitate higher types of character; from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes—for both imitate persons acting and doing. For the same reason the Dorians claim the invention both of Tragedy and Comedy.

The claim to Comedy is put forward by the Megarians—not only by those of Greece proper, who allege that it originated under their democracy, but also by the Megarians of Sicily, for the poet Epicharmus, who is much earlier than Chionides and Magnes, belonged to that country. Tragedy too is claimed by certain Dorians of the Peloponnese. In each case they appeal to the evidence of language. Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes, each of them lying deep in our nature.

First, the instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. We have evidence of this in the facts of experience. Objects which in themselves we view with pain, we delight to contemplate when reproduced with minute fidelity: such as the forms of the most ignoble animals and of dead bodies. The cause of this again is, that to learn gives the liveliest pleasure, not only to philosophers but to men in general; whose capacity, however, of learning is more limited.

For if you happen not to have seen the original, the pleasure will be due not to the imitation as such, but to the execution, the coloring, or some such other cause. Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature. Persons, therefore, starting with this natural gift developed by degrees their special aptitudes, till their rude improvisations gave birth to Poetry. Poetry now diverged in two directions, according to the individual character of the writers.

The graver spirits imitated noble actions, and the actions of good men. The more trivial sort imitated the actions of meaner persons, at first composing satires, as the former did hymns to the gods and the praises of famous men. A poem of the satirical kind cannot indeed be put down to any author earlier than Homer; though many such writers probably there were. The appropriate meter was also here introduced; hence the measure is still called the iambic or lampooning measure, being that in which people lampooned one another.

Thus the older poets were distinguished as writers of heroic or of lampooning verse. As, in the serious style, Homer is pre-eminent among poets, for he alone combined dramatic form with excellence of imitation so he too first laid down the main lines of comedy, by dramatizing the ludicrous instead of writing personal satire. But when Tragedy and Comedy came to light, the two classes of poets still followed their natural bent: the lampooners became writers of Comedy, and the Epic poets were succeeded by Tragedians, since the drama was a larger and higher form of art. Whether Tragedy has as yet perfected its proper types or not; and whether it is to be judged in itself, or in relation also to the audience—this raises another question.

Be that as it may, Tragedy—as also Comedy—was at first mere improvisation. The one originated with the authors of the Dithyramb, the other with those of the phallic songs, which are still in use in many of our cities Tragedy advanced by slow degrees; each new element that showed itself was in turn developed. Having passed through many changes, it found its natural form, and there it stopped. Aeschylus first introduced a second actor; he diminished the importance of the Chorus, and assigned the leading part to the dialogue.

Sophocles raised the number of actors to three, and added scene painting. Moreover, it was not till late that the short plot was discarded for one of greater compass, and the grotesque diction of the earlier satyric form for the stately manner of Tragedy. The iambic measure then replaced the trochaic tetrameter, which was originally employed when the poetry was of the satyric order, and had greater affinities with dancing. Once dialogue had come in, Nature herself discovered the appropriate measure. For the iambic is, of all measures, the most colloquial: we see it in the fact that conversational speech runs into iambic lines more frequently than into any other kind of verse; rarely into hexameters, and only when we drop the colloquial intonation.

Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type—not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain. The successive changes through which Tragedy passed, and the authors of these changes, are well known, whereas Comedy has had no history, because it was not at first treated seriously. It was late before the Archon granted a comic chorus to a poet; the performers were till then voluntary.

Comedy had already taken definite shape when comic poets, distinctively so called, are heard of Who furnished it with masks, or prologues, or increased the number of actors—these and other similar details remain unknown. Epic poetry agrees with Tragedy in so far as it is an imitation in verse of characters of a higher type.

They differ in that Epic poetry admits but one kind of meter and is narrative in form. They differ, again, in their length: for Tragedy endeavors, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit, whereas the Epic action has no limits of time. This, then, is a second point of difference; though at first the same freedom was admitted in Tragedy as in Epic poetry.

Interludes, being two essays, a story, and some verses

Of their constituent parts some are common to both, some peculiar to Tragedy: whoever, therefore knows what is good or bad Tragedy, knows also about Epic poetry. All the elements of an Epic poem are found in Tragedy, but the elements of a Tragedy are not all found in the Epic poem. Of the poetry which imitates in hexameter verse, and of Comedy, we will speak hereafter. Let us now discuss Tragedy, resuming its formal definition, as resulting from what has been already said. Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.

Now as tragic imitation implies persons acting, it necessarily follows in the first place, that Spectacular equipment will be a part of Tragedy Next, Song and Diction, for these are the media of imitation. Again, Tragedy is the imitation of an action; and an action implies personal agents, who necessarily possess certain distinctive qualities both of character and thought; for it is by these that we qualify actions themselves, and these—thought and character—are the two natural causes from which actions spring, and on actions again all success or failure depends.

Hence, the Plot is the imitation of the action—for by plot I here mean the arrangement of the incidents. By Character I mean that in virtue of which we ascribe certain qualities to the agents. Thought is required wherever a statement is proved, or, it may be, a general truth enunciated. Every Tragedy, therefore, must have six parts, which parts determine its quality—namely, Plot, Character, Diction, Thought, Spectacle, Song.

Two of the parts constitute the medium of imitation, one the manner, and three the objects of imitation. And these complete the fist. These elements have been employed, we may say, by the poets to a man; in fact, every play contains Spectacular elements as well as Character, Plot, Diction, Song, and Thought. But most important of all is the structure of the incidents. For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality. Dramatic action, therefore, is not with a view to the representation of character: character comes in as subsidiary to the actions.

Hence the incidents and the plot are the end of a tragedy; and the end is the chief thing of all. Again, without action there cannot be a tragedy; there may be without character. The tragedies of most of our modern poets fail in the rendering of character; and of poets in general this is often true.

It is the same in painting; and here lies the difference between Zeuxis and Polygnotus. Polygnotus delineates character well; the style of Zeuxis is devoid of ethical quality. Again, if you string together a set of speeches expressive of character, and well finished in point of diction and thought, you will not produce the essential tragic effect nearly so well as with a play which, however deficient in these respects, yet has a plot and artistically constructed incidents.

Besides which, the most powerful elements of emotional interest in Tragedy—Peripeteia or Reversal of the Situation, and Recognition scenes—are parts of the plot. A further proof is, that novices in the art attain to finish of diction and precision of portraiture before they can construct the plot. It is the same with almost all the early poets.

The plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were, the soul of a tragedy; Character holds the second place. A similar fact is seen in painting. The most beautiful colors, laid on confusedly, will not give as much pleasure as the chalk outline of a portrait. Thus Tragedy is the imitation of an action, and of the agents mainly with a view to the action.

Third in order is Thought—that is, the faculty of saying what is possible and pertinent in given circumstances. In the case of oratory, this is the function of the political art and of the art of rhetoric: and so indeed the older poets make their characters speak the language of civic life; the poets of our time, the language of the rhetoricians. Character is that which reveals moral purpose, showing what kind of things a man chooses or avoids. Speeches, therefore, which do not make this manifest, or in which the speaker does not choose or avoid anything whatever, are not expressive of character.

Thought, on the other hand, is found where something is proved to be or not to be, or a general maxim is enunciated. Fourth among the elements enumerated comes Diction; by which I mean, as has been already said, the expression of the meaning in words; and its essence is the same both in verse and prose. The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry.

For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet. These principles being established, let us now discuss the proper structure of the Plot, since this is the first and most important thing in Tragedy. Now, according to our definition Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude; for there may be a whole that is wanting in magnitude.

A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it. A well constructed plot, therefore, must neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles.

Again, a beautiful object, whether it be a living organism or any whole composed of parts, must not only have an orderly arrangement of parts, but must also be of a certain magnitude; for beauty depends on magnitude and order. Hence a very small animal organism cannot be beautiful; for the view of it is confused, the object being seen in an almost imperceptible moment of time. Nor, again, can one of vast size be beautiful; for as the eye cannot take it all in at once, the unity and sense of the whole is lost for the spectator; as for instance if there were one a thousand miles long.

As, therefore, in the case of animate bodies and organisms a certain magnitude is necessary, and a magnitude which may be easily embraced in one view; so in the plot, a certain length is necessary, and a length which can be easily embraced by the memory. The limit of length in relation to dramatic competition and sensuous presentment is no part of artistic theory. For had it been the rule for a hundred tragedies to compete together, the performance would have been regulated by the waterclock—as indeed we are told was formerly done.

But the limit as fixed by the nature of the drama itself is this: the greater the length, the more beautiful will the piece be by reason of its size, provided that the whole be perspicuous. And to define the matter roughly, we may say that the proper magnitude is comprised within such limits, that the sequence of events, according to the law of probability or necessity, will admit of a change from bad fortune to good, or from good fortune to bad.

Unity of plot does not, as some persons think, consist in the unity of the hero. Hence the error, as it appears, of all poets who have composed a Heracleid, a Theseid, or other poems of the kind.

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They imagine that as Heracles was one man, the story of Heracles must also be a unity. But Homer, as in all else he is of surpassing merit, here too—whether from art or natural genius—seems to have happily discerned the truth. In composing the Odyssey he did not include all the adventures of Odysseus—such as his wound on Parnassus, or his feigned madness at the mustering of the host—incidents between which there was no necessary or probable connection: but he made the Odyssey, and likewise the Iliad, to center round an action that in our sense of the word is one.

As therefore, in the other imitative arts, the imitation is one when the object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed. For a thing whose presence or absence makes no visible difference, is not an organic part of the whole.

It is, moreover, evident from what has been said, that it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen—what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put into verse, and it would still be a species of history, with meter no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen.

Poetry, therefore, is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. By the universal I mean how a person of a certain type on occasion speak or act, according to the law of probability or necessity; and it is this universality at which poetry aims in the names she attaches to the personages. The particular is—for example—what Alcibiades did or suffered. In Comedy this is already apparent: for here the poet first constructs the plot on the lines of probability, and then inserts characteristic names—unlike the lampooners who write about particular individuals.

But tragedians still keep to real names, the reason being that what is possible is credible: what has not happened we do not at once feel sure to be possible; but what has happened is manifestly possible: otherwise it would not have happened.


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Still there are even some tragedies in which there are only one or two well-known names, the rest being fictitious. We must not, therefore, at all costs keep to the received legends, which are the usual subjects of Tragedy. Indeed, it would be absurd to attempt it; for even subjects that are known are known only to a few, and yet give pleasure to all.

And even if he chances to take a historical subject, he is none the less a poet; for there is no reason why some events that have actually happened should not conform to the law of the probable and possible, and in virtue of that quality in them he is their poet or maker. Of all plots and actions the episodic are the worst.


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  6. Bad poets compose such pieces by their own fault, good poets, to please the players; for, as they write show pieces for competition, they stretch the plot beyond its capacity, and are often forced to break the natural continuity. But again, Tragedy is an imitation not only of a complete action, but of events inspiring fear or pity. Such an effect is best produced when the events come on us by surprise; and the effect is heightened when, at the same time, they follows as cause and effect.

    The tragic wonder will then be greater than if they happened of themselves or by accident; for even coincidences are most striking when they have an air of design. We may instance the statue of Mitys at Argos, which fell upon his murderer while he was a spectator at a festival, and killed him. Such events seem not to be due to mere chance.

    Plots, therefore, constructed on these principles are necessarily the best. Plots are either Simple or Complex, for the actions in real life, of which the plots are an imitation, obviously show a similar distinction. An action which is one and continuous in the sense above defined, I call Simple, when the change of fortune takes place without Reversal of the Situation and without Recognition. A Complex action is one in which the change is accompanied by such Reversal, or by Recognition, or by both.

    These last should arise from the internal structure of the plot, so that what follows should be the necessary or probable result of the preceding action.

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    It makes all the difference whether any given event is a case of proper hoc [because of this—ed. Reversal of the Situation is a change by which the action veers round to its opposite, subject always to our rule of probability or necessity. Thus in the Oedipus , the messenger comes to cheer Oedipus and free him from his alarms about his mother, but by revealing who he is, he produces the opposite effect.

    Recognition, as the name indicates, is a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by the poet for good or bad fortune. The best form of recognition is coincident with a Reversal of the Situation, as in the Oedipus. There are indeed other forms. Even inanimate things of the most trivial kind may in a sense be objects of recognition. Again, we may recognize or discover whether a person has done a thing or not.

    But the recognition which is most intimately connected with the plot and action is, as we have said, the recognition of persons. This recognition, combined with Reversal, will produce either pity or fear; and actions producing these effects are those which, by our definition, Tragedy represents.

    Moreover, it is upon such situations that the issues of good or bad fortune will depend Recognition, then, being between persons, it may happen that one person only is recognized by the other—when the latter is already known—or it may be necessary that the recognition should be on both sides. Thus Iphigenia is revealed to Orestes by the sending of the letter; but another act of recognition is required to make Orestes known to Iphigenia. Two parts, then, of the Plot—Reversal of the Situation and Recognition—turn upon surprises.

    A third part is the Scene of Suffering.

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    The Scene of Suffering is a destructive or painful action, such as death on the stage, bodily agony, wounds, and the like. The parts of Tragedy which must be treated as elements of the whole have been already mentioned. We now come to the quantitative parts—the separate parts into which Tragedy is divided—namely, Prologue, Episode, Exode, Choric song; this last being divided into Parode and Stasimon. These are common to all plays: peculiar to some are the songs of actors from the stage and the Commoi.

    The Prologue is that entire part of a tragedy which precedes the Parode of the Chorus. The Episode is that entire part of a tragedy which is between complete choric songs. The Exode is that entire part of a tragedy which has no choric song after it. Of the Choric part the Parode is the first undivided utterance of the Chorus: the Stasimon is a Choric ode without anapaests or trochaic tetrameters: the Commos is a joint lamentation of Chorus and actors.

    The quantitative parts—the separate parts into which it is divided—are here enumerated. As the sequel to what has already been said, we must proceed to consider what the poet should aim at, and what he should avoid, in constructing his plots; and by what means the specific effect of Tragedy will be produced.

    A perfect tragedy should, as we have seen, be arranged not on the simple but on the complex plan. It should, moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and fear, this being the distinctive mark of tragic imitation. It follows plainly, in the first place, that the change of fortune presented must not be the spectacle of a virtuous man brought from prosperity to adversity: for this moves neither pity nor fear; it merely shocks us. Nor, again, that of a bad man passing from adversity to prosperity: for nothing can be more alien to the spirit of Tragedy; it possesses no single tragic quality; it neither satisfies the moral sense nor calls forth pity or fear.

    Nor, again, should the downfall of the utter villain be exhibited. A plot of this kind would, doubtless, satisfy the moral sense, but it would inspire neither pity nor fear; for pity is aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves. Such an event, therefore, will be neither pitiful nor terrible. There remains, then, the character between these two extremes—that of a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty.

    He must be one who is highly renowned and prosperous—a personage like Oedipus, Thyestes, or other illustrious men of such families. What both deaths have in common is a sense of opposites, an important theme in the play that is manifest both in the story and in the language of the Chorus in Part II. Holy events contain opposites — in this case, the death of a martyr and the death of Christ are simultaneously worthy of mourning and joy. That a human cannot fully comprehend this mysterious contradiction matters little, as long as the human accepts the contradiction as a fact.

    Dramatically, the sermon has little impact. It does reveal to the audience that Thomas has firmly accepted his place as God's instrument; he has vanquished his ambition and is ready to die for the right reason. However, nothing has happened since his final speech of Part I to make us think that he might have changed his mind.

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    The character undergoes no transformation here and does not add much to the ideas presented in Part I. Perhaps Eliot wanted to make certain his audience understood his themes, and perhaps he wanted to announce that Thomas's crisis of faith would not extend into Part II. But this raises an interesting question when reading or viewing the play for the first time: if our protagonist has already reached the apex of his personal journey, where else is there for him to go? How can the play only be half over if there is nowhere left to journey?

    Compounded with the fact that the audience knows how it will end Thomas will be murdered in the cathedral , Eliot poses an interesting dramatic challenge he will have to address in Part II. It's worth considering the theatrical effect of this sermon for Eliot's intended audience. In the expansive Canterbury cathedral, the actor playing Thomas would have taken the pulpit and then preached, the only figure on stage, and with very little indication that this was part of a play rather than an actual sermon. Listening to a sermon drawn somewhat from the historical record of Thomas's final sermon on Christmas Day, must have been a rich, profound theatrical experience, complicating the lines of fiction, myth, and reality for audience members.

    This effect is in line with Eliot's intent to structure the experience of his play alongside that of a mass. Again, he is interested more in ritual than storytelling, and both the theatricality and the substance of this sermon reinforce that intention. In terms of theatricality, his play has explicitly become a mass. In terms of substance, Thomas preaches about the mystery and contradiction of celebrating and mourning at the same time. This is an experience that transcends intellectualism.

    It is about visceral connection and faith, a community whose shared passions are made manifest through a ritual. By putting these ideas into the play, Eliot sets himself up to make Thomas's murder in Act II not a climax again, the protagonist in many ways reaches his climax in Part I, and will not falter from his resolve , but rather a ritual.