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What is the author's perception and treatment of death in Everyman?  

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dweb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 16, 2011 at 5:04 AM via web

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What is the author's perception and treatment of death in Everyman?

 

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 17, 2011 at 2:04 AM (Answer #1)

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To personify Death in order for the viewer (this is, after all, a play to be performed before a naive audience) to fear Death is wrong-headed, in my opinion.  Morality plays served the social function of making abstract ideas real for an audience not comfortable with abstractions.  The desertion of Everyman by his friends, relatives, etc. was made physically real for the audience -- Death was real enough already.  It is the separation from earthly connections by death that is being dramatized here, not the figure itself.  Readers in modern times often dismiss the physical presence of actors in these early pieces, because they come to us as "literature."  But if you think of them as "recipes" for performance, you get closer to their function as moral message.  No-one, with the exception of the amateur actors, read these pieces as literature.  

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 16, 2011 at 8:21 AM (Answer #2)

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First, I think that this question should be moved to the Discussion Board for Everyman. You will most likely get many different and relevant answers to your question.

The author of Everyman has a very specific understanding of death. The importance of the text is that it is as relevant today as it was when it was written. The fact that the author realizes, and supports, that only good deeds will help one get into heaven is of the utmost importance (for those with the same ideologies).

Today, some people ignore the fact that good deeds outweigh all other things. Therefore, the author gives a very important lesson in morality about death. One could justify that the author sees death as something that needs to be respected and honored. Death, for the author, is something which has very specific rules one must adhere to. In the "search" for death, one must come to find out specific truths about them self and those whom they surround themselves with. As for the treatment of death, it should be treated with both respect and fear.

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