Study Guide

Everyman

by Anonymous, Unknown

Everyman Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Journey to Paradise

Journey to Paradise. Long journey from life to death that Death orders Everyman to make. Everyman is to take with him his full book of accounts; he must be careful, as he has done many bad deeds and only a few good ones. When he reaches Paradise, he will be required to account for his life. Death permits Everyman to take with him on his journey any companions he wishes, but only Good-Deeds goes with him the entire way.

With several stops along the way, Everyman’s journey takes on a dual purpose. On one hand, the image of his traveling from place to place to find a suitable companion is similar to a realistic trip; on the other, and on a more spiritual plane, Everyman’s peregrination characterizes his quest for salvation. On this path, Everyman is damned until he realizes that he must free himself of his sins before he is permitted to enter the heavenly sphere. He can accomplish that task only with the help of the sacraments and his own good deeds.

House of Salvation

House of Salvation. Place where Everyman receives the sacrament of penance from Confession. On a certain level, the House of Salvation represents Heaven and is where the play begins—with God speaking about humankind’s forgetfulness of his son’s sacrifice—and ends with the angel taking Everyman’s soul, as does human life.

Everyman Historical Context

Cultural Changes in England
The end of the fifteenth century marked the end of the medieval period in England. The...

(The entire section is 732 words.)

Everyman Literary Style

A scene from a production staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company Published by Gale Cengage

Archetype
The word archetype is generally used to describe a character who represents a pattern from which all...

(The entire section is 735 words.)

Everyman Compare and Contrast

1495: Henry VII is king of England. Catholicism is still the religion of the country and will remain so for the next thirty...

(The entire section is 321 words.)

Everyman Topics for Further Study

Everyman is an morality play. Discuss how morality plays influenced Renaissance dramas, especially...

(The entire section is 184 words.)

Everyman What Do I Read Next?

The Second Shepherd's Play is one of two nativity plays that has survived from the medieval period. Both the author and the exact...

(The entire section is 199 words.)

Everyman Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Anonymous. Review of Everyman in the Athenaeum, July 20, 1901, p. 103.

Barnet,...

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Everyman Bibliography (Great Characters in Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Davenport, W. A. Fifteenth-Century English Drama: The Early Moral Plays and Their Literary Relations. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982. A useful overview to the play, its genre, and contemporary works written in the same or a similar genre. Bibliographical references, index.

Foster, Edward E. “Everyman.” In Masterplots, edited by Frank N. Magill and Laurence W. Mazzeno. 2d ed. Vol. 4. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1996. Half of the essay is dedicated to an insightful critical evaluation of the play.

Kaula, David. “Time and the Timeless in Everyman and Dr. Faustus.” College English 22 (October, 1960): 9-14. Kaula compares the two morality plays and the kinds of time represented in them. In Everyman, astronomical time is finally replaced by moral time with its attendant freedom, in which human beings can control their destiny.

Kinghorn, A. M. Mediaeval Drama. London: Evans Brothers, 1968. Examines the plot and themes of the play and its place in the tradition of the morality play.

Kolve, V. A. “Everyman and the Parable of the Talents.” In Medieval English Drama: Essays Critical and Contextual, edited by Jerome Taylor and Alan H. Nelson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. Examines the parable as a possible source for the play and includes a close reading of the play and its themes.

Potter, Robert A. The English Morality Play: Origins, History, and Influence of a Dramatic Tradition. London: Routledge, 1975. Comprehensive examination of Everyman and like dramas. Bibliographical references, index.

Potter, Robert. “The Unity of Medieval Drama: European Contexts for Early English Dramatic Traditions.” In Contexts for Early English Drama, edited by Marianne G. Briscoe and John C. Coldewey. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Examines the relationship between Everyman and its Dutch analogues to argue the importance of seeing the larger contexts for early English drama.

Taylor, Jerome, and Alan H. Nelson, eds. Medieval English Drama: Essays Critical and Contextual. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. Includes in-depth examinations of several aspects of the play. Includes index.

Van Laan, Thomas F. “Everyman: A Structural Analysis.” PMLA 78, no. 5 (December, 1963): 465-475. Argues that the play’s popularity arises from a structure that accentuates its dramatic qualities. In the first half, there is a falling toward damnation, in the second, there is a rising toward God.

Vocht, Henry de. Everyman: A Comparative Study of Texts and Sources. Vaduz, Liechtenstein: Kraus, 1963. An indispensable guide to the varying texts of the play, the principal sources including the Dutch play Elckerlyc (1495), and the stylistics of the text itself. Bibliographical references, index.