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This section of the play develops the theme of suffering. The chorus women are suffering. They do not choose to gather at the Cathedral; they have been drawn by some unknown force, by fate or destiny. Together they talk about their suffering and foreshadow that more pain lies in the future. They will soon be suffering from Becket's death.
Suffering is also central to the character of a martyr. A proud man cannot be a martyr, for God will only choose a man for martyrdom who has humbled himself and follows God's will. If a person tries to act according to one's own will in defiance of God's will, the person is bound to suffer. Becket has learned this lesson well. When he followed his worldly desires rather than God's will, he became a proud man and was forced into exile in France. During his seven years of exile, he suffered greatly, knowing he had sinned and disappointed his followers. Now, he has turned away from pride, repented, and humbled himself. As a result, he can return and face his followers and accusers while accepting God's will, whatever it might be for him. Becket repeats the priest's image of the wheel in motion; life is a wheel of action leading to suffering, and suffering leads to further action, which leads to more suffering, in an endless circle. Only total trust in God can break the circle.
The sudden entry of the tempters is strategic; it does not give Becket time to think. The friendly tone of the tempter makes him seem innocent; he tries to seduce Becket into a life of luxury and into the King's favor once again. Fortunately, Becket now has his priorities straight and easily resists the temptation.
Although the tempters appear as real characters on stage, they are really projections of Becket's own mind. Hence, upon his return to England, Becket mentally pictures the good time he could have again by becoming the King's friend; he could support Henry II, enjoy luxuries, avoid conflict, and live in outward peace. But Becket knows that this is not God's will for him. His dialogue with the tempter, thus, becomes a dialogue between his own self, the old Chancellor Becket, and the new transformed Becket, who is wholly devoted to the service of God.