Love, War, Temptation and Menace

Ref: C3744658

We will consider Christopher Marlowe’s play 'Doctor Faustus' and T. S. Eliot’s 'Murder in the Cathedral'. Faustus is torn between seeking forbidden knowledge and repenting. But can he repent? Is Faustus’s tragedy caused by a Calvinist God who has predetermined the hero’s fate? In 'Murder in the Cathedral' does Becket’s death create hope for the poor in Canterbury? Or does Becket surrender to the worst temptation which is to “do the right deed for the wrong reason”? We will explore the clash of values in both plays and appreciate their different kinds of poetry. We will look closely at the role of the Chorus in 'Murder in the Cathedral'.

Course aim

We will discuss two plays which explore issues of power, aspiration and identity. The texts are Christopher Marlowe's tragedy 'Doctor Faustus' and T. S. Eliot's 'Murder in the Cathedral' in which the Chorus plays an especially important role.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The course is for anyone who is interested in Literature. There are no entry requirements apart from an interest and enthusiasm for Literature.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss the social, psychological and moral conflicts.
  • Analyse the unique structure of each play.
  • Comment on the language and imagery of key speeches.
  • Discuss the role and the importance of the Chorus in 'Murder in the Cathedral'.
  • Gain practice in providing evidence for arguments and counter-arguments.

How will I be taught?

  • Your tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning. You will be asked to take part in discussion. You will have the opportunity to introduce a topic, but this is not required.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • Your tutor will give you informal feedback on your progress. You can contact your tutor by email if you need advice or feedback. If you feel shy about participating, your tutor will give you advice about how to build up your confidence.

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring a copy of Christopher Marlowe's play 'Doctor Faustus' to the first class. The recommended edition is the A-text (1604), edited by John O'Connor (published by Pearson Education Limited). At the first session we will discuss the themes and contrasts of character in Act One.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • To prepare for the first class, please think about the themes, contrasts of character and the use of language and imagery in Act One of 'Doctor Faustus'.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full course information sheet

Love, War, Temptation and Menace

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This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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