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The major theme shows that it is a sin to seek Martyrdom. A martyr is born, per the will of God. A true martyr never wishes to be a martyr or acts to become one, but gives up his life to God with total surrender of his will. Thomas Becket becomes aware that the sole purpose of his life is to be God's servant. However, to serve God in order to gain the glory of martyrdom is an act against the will of God, a sinful act. Becket refuses to try and become a martyr. As he is attacked, he does not resist, nor is he excited; he simply accepts the murder. In this state of true acceptance of God's will lies his greatness. In becoming a martyr, Becket inspires his followers with strength and courage.
Life is filled with temptations: the temptation of the luxurious life, the temptation of subduing and using others, and the ultimate temptation of power. In his earlier life, Becket admits he was not always able to overcome temptation. But he has fully repented and put pride aside. Now in seeking to do only the will of God, he finds great strength. In truth, overcoming temptation always takes strength of faith and character, but the rewards of heaven are higher than the rewards of earth.
The mood of the play is totally serious and somber, with a constant undercurrent of impending tragedy throughout.