Power is a representation of the control a person or an institution wields. In the movie Becket we see a power struggle between two sides. The Monarch and the Church. The movie Becket is a King, King Henry, who appoints his best friend, Thomas Becket, to the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury to gain favour with the church. A move that ultimately intensified the power struggle between the Church and the Monarch. This paper is going to discuss the various ways power has been portrayed in the movie.
Although depicted as a friend, Thomas Becket was Henry II servant before becoming an advisor to the office of the Archbishop. This is the first portrayal of power where Thomas Becket had to be a servant to his own best friend whom he held close. At this part, it is apparent that even the strength of their friendship is not enough to overthrow the institution of power established by the system. Where the monarch is in charge of the land and the rest were under its rule.
Thomas Bennet also had some ambition within him as he can be seen rising through the ranks to be awarded archdeaconry of Canterbury. The offices of the Archbishop were rich and powerful, and Thomas becomes accustomed to this lavish lifestyle. In this instance, the movie portrays power and wealth to go hand in hand. Access to power automatically brings access to wealth as it can be seen with Thomas Bennet whose rise through the ranks of the church brought along some lavish lifestyle.
When the Henry II became King, Thomas Becket star rose along with him. He was appointed Chancellor. At this position, he gets to benefit from the privileges that come with being close to the King. In this instance, power is portrayed as something that can be radiated. The King had powers, and he radiated this power to those who surrounded him. The likes of Thomas Bennet ended up being direct beneficiaries of this radiated power.
The movie also displayed power as insatiable. Although King Henry II is already powerful, he still craves for more power. King Henry II sees the church as wielding too much power, and he wants some of that power for the monarch. The fact that the church had its institutions, laws and controlled vast wealth was inviting for King Henry who wanted the church to pay taxes. He saw the church as an opportunity for him to acquire more wealth and power and the best way to do that was to install a loyal friend as its head. He had not anticipated that his friend would turn his back on him in favour of serving the church and the people.
Power has not only corrupted Monarch, but it has also corrupted the church as an institution. Before Bennet being appointed Archbishop of the Canterbury, the church is very opposed to this idea of him being elected as Archbishop of the Canterbury although he had occupied the archdeaconry of Canterbury before that. They viewed him as an outsider and were reluctant to have an outsider take command over them. Their reasons seem legit, but they had no reason to oppose this move by the King because at the time he was acting well within his jurisdiction.
From the movie, it seems that the only power people have is that given to them. From the movie, the office of the Archbishop was only powerful because people respected the church and valued it. Unlike the monarch which gets its powers from having a military to enforce its rule, the church has no such force, and those present are those provided by the monarch. It, therefore, seemed apparent that the church was only as powerful as the peoples belief in it which made it even more powerful than the monarch, one can say.
Power is also portrayed as corrupting those who wield it. Before ascending to the throne, Henry II would have never wanted death to befall his friend leave alone ordering knights to carry it out. He would have chosen a different path of action. On the other hand, before being the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Bennet would have never turned his back on his friend Henry II. He would have carried out Henrys wishes not only because he was his servant but because he was his friend. The turn of events corrupted both parties. Henry II became obsessed with reducing the powers of the church while Bennet became obsessed with ruining King Henrys plans.
In the movie, power is also portrayed as indivisible. It would have made perfect sense for King Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Bennet to agree on matters concerning taxation and criminous clerks. These are issues that affected the whole kingdom, and no one truly benefited from the fighting between the church and the monarch. Agreeing on a middle ground would have avoided a lot of loses. However, both the church and the monarch were not willing to share power as is evident in the movie. The situation became so bad to the point the Archbishop had to die for them to agree.
The power that is earned is much better than that given. In this context, Thomas Bennet had earned his power, and this was evident even after his passing. The power he commanded grew instead of shrinking. On the other hand, King Henrys powers diminished, and he became a source of humiliation to the monarch. His friend, on the other hand, went ahead to become a Saint. Something that most bishops cannot even dream of. Although it might seem he was lucky to be appointed to the position, Thomas Bennet got to earn the peoples respect by serving them.
The movie portrays the power struggle between the church and the monarch as something that has been existent from the beginning. As can be seen by the reactions of the King when the Archbishop chose to campaign for the canonization of Anselm, a monk that had defied the monarch. It also shows there were some power struggles already existing in the church itself as three of the Bishops chose to take part in the crowning of the heir apparent to the crown without the approval of Archbishop of the Canterbury. Something that led to them being excommunicated.
The Pope does play a very minimal role in the power struggle that takes place. As the head of the church, it would have been expected of him to take a stand for the church. His decision was worse because by playing the middle ground he was allowing the feud to continue while he looks on.
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