“Everyman” is considered to be a morality play of the late 15th century. It is an allegorical play which brings up a point of Christian salvation and what human must do to accomplish it.
The premise of the play is that the good as well as evil deeds of a person’s life will be tallied by God after death. It is a storyline of the life of Everyman, who represents by personal example all mankind.
Firstly, the Messenger reads a prologue and conveys the audience to pay their attention to the motives and purposes of the play, which will demonstrate people’s lives and deaths or, put the matter another way, “people’s ending”, and how people are always transitory: changing from one state into another one (Paulson, 2009).
God speaks subsequently, and immediately starts to criticize in the way that “all humans” do not serve Him properly. People live without any fear in the world, they do not think about heaven or hell at all, or they do not think about the results of their actions and, eventually, they do not think about the judgments that will still come to them in future. God says, “In worldly riches is all their mind”. In general, people live on their own, but it does not mean that they are secure in their lives. God notices how everything is getting worse “fro year to year” (from year to year), and thus, He has decided to have a “reckoning of every man’s person”.
God says that people who adore money, wealth and worldly goods will be struck by Death’s dart, and then they will be sent to dwelling in hell eternally, unless, that is, “Alms be his good friend, where “Alms” implies “Good Deeds”. Hence, it is regarded as considerable evidence that Good Deeds can come to a sinner’s rescue from eternal damnation.
Afterwards, Death sees Everyman walking along, “finely dressed”. Death moves towards Everyman, and asks where he is going, and where he neglected his “maker” (the one who made him). Then, Death tells Everyman that he needs to take a lasting journey upon him, bringing with him his “book of count”, which involves his Good as well as Bad Deeds. Everyman claims that he is not prepared to make the following reckoning, and is frightened to recognize who Death is. Then, Everyman says to Death that he intends to find a certain company to go on the journey from life into death, and Death asserts that he can do so, if anyone is courageous enough to go along with him (Everyman, n.d.)
Then Fellowship goes in. He sees that Everyman is looking dejected and instantly offers to help him. Everyman informs that he is in the “great jeopardy”. Thus, Fellowship pledges him not to “forsake to my life’s end/ in good company”. Everyman tells about his journey but Fellowship assures him that nothing can make him continue such a journey, and then he leaves Everyman “as fast as” he can. Kindred and Cousin go in. Everyman asks them earnestly for company but they decide to desert him.
Subsequently, Everyman asks for a help his “Goods and Riches” but Goods claims that love of Goods is somewhat opposite to love of God and forsakes him. Then, he turns to his Good Deeds, but she is too feeble to go with him to Confession, who commands him to demonstrate penance. Everyman scourges himself to a stone for his sin. This permits Good Deeds to walk.
There are more friends Discretion, Strength, Beauty and Five Wits, claiming that they are ready to accompany Everyman. Knowledge tells him to go to Priesthood to obtain holy sacrament. Together with all the friends he journeys to his grave.
When Everyman begins to die, Discretion, Strength, Beauty and Five Wits all forsake him one by one. Good Deeds assures him that she is not ready to forsake him. Everyman recognizes that it is time for him to be gone to implement his reckoning and pay his spiritual debts as well. Thus, he says about the lesson of the play,
“Take example, all ye that this do hear or see
How they that I loved best do forsake me,
Except my Good Deeds that bideth truly”.
Giving his soul into God’s hands, Everyman disappears into the grave with Good Deeds. When his soul rises from the grave, an Angel appears with Everyman’s Book of Reckoning to receive his soul. Eventually, a doctor appears in the epilogue and informs the hearers to forsake Discretion, Strength, Beauty and Five Wits as all of them forsake “every man” in the end.
The following morality play was elaborated to encourage the quest for salvation the Christian community. The plot itself is very important and considerable currently. The principal character and the rest of the characters are considered as representations of varied forces. All the characters are allegorical ones, because they personify an abstract idea. The real conflict between good and evil is dramatized by the interplay between Everyman and these characters detecting their nature. The play demonstrates not only the way how every person should face death but also how every person should live. The dilemma that the principal character is burdened with at the very beginning seems to be common for all humanity, and the solution dictated for him by Good Deeds and Knowledge together is prudential in the context of Everyman’s effort for salvation (Louden, 1992).
The play is regarded to be a valuable contribution as it remains a peace of morality for society of all times. It teaches every prudent person how to face Death bravely and sagely of leading his or her life according to the norms of Christian morals as well as principles of charity.
The symbolic representation of each character retains, the symbolic meanings the action demonstrates as well as symbolic atmosphere of the whole scenario engenders, making the play allegorical actual currently.
All the characters represent good and bad forces, and all the actions represent functioning behavior of these forces. Thus, it can be said that the play has a symbolic structure and a philosophical theme.
There are an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events in every episode. When a certain action is properly analyzed it is obvious that what happens with Everyman has a general meaning. Everyman is afraid of dying as the rest of people in the world. When Death identifies himself, he does what every faint-hearted person would do, he asks for more time, denoting the fact that he is not ready, and when it fails, he attempts to bribe Death. It is obvious that there is a definite type of interaction between Death and Everyman because of the conflicting case that arises from it. Everyman’s weakness and Death’s inexorability contends with each other (Bradford, 2015).
The unknown author of the play decided to take a secular style. Theism is considered as the only one element that makes the play look Christian. Other things in the play are universal ones, thus, they should be investigated through the prism of universality. The plot provides a path for every person to follow and comprehend a depth of people’s life. The moral and spiritual matters are things that one needs to tackle during life.
Therefore, no human being can escape final judgment. God tells Death that the day will come when every person must begin his or her final journey, giving an accounting of his or her life before the Lord. Nobody can escape this charge; everyone will face a day of reckoning (Cummings, 2009).
Bradford, W. “Everyman - Part Two of Study Guide for "Everyman.” About.com. (2015): n. pag. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.
Cummings, M. “Everyman.” Cummings Study Guide. (2005): n. pag. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.
Louden, R. B. “Morality and Moral Theory.” New York: Oxford University Press (1992): n. pag. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.
N.p. “Everyman.” Pdf. N.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2016.
Paulson, J. Death’s Arrival and Everyman’s Separation. N.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.