In the play Everyman, what is the message and technical means by which it is dramatized?

In Everyman, the message is that you should do good deeds while you are still alive and surrounded by your friends. The way this lesson is taught: Students sit in a circle. Each student gets a number and acts out the corresponding part of the play (1- everyman, 2- god, 3- friend 1, 4- friend 2). The teacher reads the lines for each character as they come up in turn. The students ask questions to get clarification on important plot points. This gets students talking while they listen and read at the same time. The teacher may also take this opportunity to ask questions about what has been read so far--"I don't understand why he would say that...does anyone have an answer?"

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Everyman is a Medieval morality play, written in obvious allegory.  Each of the characters has a name which represents the quality they have (for example, Beauty is concerned about outward appearance).  Allegory makes it easy to understand each character's role in the story. 

In this play, the main character is Everyman--someone who literally represents each of us.  God sends Death to get Everyman; Everyman tells Death he is not prepared to face God and give his final accounting, as would probably be true of most of us.  Everyman asks for more time and he asks to bring some friends along; he gets both requests but must set out on his journey to meet God.  All the "friends" he thought he had are not interested in the journey or the destination. Among others, Beauty leaves him, Five-Wits (his five senses) leaves him...none of them are willing or able to accompany Everyman to the next life. 

The only person (the only thing) Everyman finds to take with him is Good Deeds.  This is the principle taught by the Medieval Church--you must do good deeds (good works) while you're living in order to find favor in the next world (heaven).  The theme of the play is dramatized by the use of allegory, as it's difficult to miss the point when the names and character traits are so obvious.

Hope that helps!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team