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What is the authors perception and the treatment of death in Everyman?

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jddynarski | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 4, 2010 at 5:32 AM via web

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What is the authors perception and the treatment of death in Everyman?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 4, 2010 at 5:52 AM (Answer #1)

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In Everyman, Death is a messenger sent by God to hold Everyman to account.  This is not an uncommon portrayal of death when he is personified in literature.  Death comes to call on Everyman, and--as most of us would be wont to do--Everyman asks for more time because he is not ready (his account book is not in order).  In that day, of course, the belief of the Church was that one must do acts of service as well as pay tithes faithfully to the Church in order to make it to Heaven.  Death in this story is gracious and allows Everyman a limited time to get his account book in order and find friends who will make this journey with him.  Death is a messenger doing his appointed task as determined by God; he is not, as he is portrayed in other literary works, one who sneaks up on his victims of his own volition and attempts to play some kind of cosmic "gotcha" game with unsuspecting (and woefully unprepared) humans. 

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