Examine Everyman as a morality play or dramatized sermon.

kc4u | Student

Everyman is a late 15th century morality play which deals with the summoning of its protagonist, called Everyman, who represents the mankind, by God through Death. In a medieval morality play, the setting as well as the characters are abstract and allegorical, dramatizing the archetypal battle between the forces of good and evil. In that sense Everyman is also an an allegorised sermon in an early dramatic form.

God feels that human beings are too engaged in the pursuit of material wealth to remember him. He asks Death to visit Everyman and bring him to God for accounting. As Death visits Everyman, he feels distressed and unprepared for the journey. He even tries to bribe Death in order to be spared. His efforts failing, Everyman now looks for others to accompany him to speak in favor of his virtues. Fellowship, consisting of Everyman's friends, refuses to go with him to death. He then approaches Kindred and Cousin, representing his family, to go with him. But even they do not agree. Since Everyman has been engaged all his life in procuring material goods, he believes such goods would accompany him. But Goods also disagree because his presence would further have pushed Everyman in God's disapproval in Heaven. Everyman now turns to Good Deeds, but she is very weak for Everyman has lifelong neglected her. She, however, seeks the support of her sister, Knowledge, and they together approach Confession. Confession offers Everyman a jewel, Penance, and Everyman repents for his sins. Confession declares Everyman as absolved of his sins, and consequently his Good Deeds strengthen to accompany him in his journey with Death. Knowledge gives Everyman a 'garment of sorrow' made up of his own tears. Good Deeds summons Beauty, Strength, Discretion, Five Wits who all now accompany Everyman as he goes to a priest for sacrament. But after the sacrament, all of them, except Good Deeds, abandon Everyman. However, Everyman, now content, goes to the grave with his Good Deeds beside him. He then climbs to Heaven to be welcomed by an Angel. At the end, the Doctor, a scholar, comes to sound the moral that only the 'good deeds' of a man accompanies him to the journey beyond.

Characters are all personified abstractions, and the message is strongly didactic. The plot underlines the basic moral discourse in its medieval paradigm.