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Why does Everyman think he can make a deal with Death?

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sarahquestion... | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:36 PM via web

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Why does Everyman think he can make a deal with Death?

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:18 PM (Answer #1)

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In this originally oral play, abstractions are given living form, as an extended metaphor to make dramatically clear the moral lesson – your Good Deeds will go with you in death (“to the grave”).  Everyman sees Death as a messenger, a summoner from God, to follow him without resistance.  On the “trip” he tries to first delay Death, then to convince his kin, friends, health, etc. to go with him, all to no avail.   Everyman thinks that Death can make exceptions, can delay the summons, etc. just like a real messenger might be talked into a delay or bribe.  Death, after all, is an actor in a costume (skeleton?) saying lines and moving across the stage, and as such is approachable by the actor playing Everyman (this was a construction to give non-literate persons the message to perform “good deeds” as a means to salvation).  In symbolic terms, we all (we are Everyman) try to delay death, by medicine, by prayer, by any means possible – we all try to negotiate when our “time comes.”

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