Can you provide 5-10 general truths about life and/or death as shown in the medieval morality play Everyman?

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Everyman is an explicitly didactic play -- in other words, a play specifically designed to teach -- many of its lessons about life and/or death are quite openly stated.  Such lessons include the following:

* The Messenger openly states that human lives are "transitory" (6) -- that is, mutable or constantly subject to change.

* God openly announces that human beings tend to live "without dread in worldly prosperity" (24). In other words, when they are enjoying good fortune, they tend to take their lives for granted and therefore forget death and neglect their obligations to God.

* God proclaims tha humans tend to be mired, during their lives, in

. . . the seven deadly sins damnable,

[Such] As pride, coveitise [covetousness], wrath, and lechery . . . (36-37)

* God asserts that the typical human being tends to live according to "his own pleasure," even though no human being can be sure when or how death will come (40-41).

* God laments that human beings tend to forget "Charity" (51) -- that is, their obligation to love him and to love one another.

In just the first 50 or so lines of the play, then, the playwright presents at least these five truths about life (or at least life as it is seen from a Christian perspective).

Meanwhile, at the very end of the play, at least five truths about death are openly presented. They include the following truths (at least as seen from a Catholic Christian point of view):

* A human's good deeds will help redeem him when he meets death (851-53).

* Most other positive human traits, such as strength, discretion, and knowledge, will have vanished by the time we face death (869-70).

* In the time of our deaths, we are utterly dependent on God's mercy (873).

* Only God, when we die, can save us from the power of Satan (881-82).

* After death occurs, no man can undo the sins he has committed during his life:

For after death amends may no man make,

For then mercy and pity doth him forsake. (911-12)

Lessons about life and death litter the pages of Everyman, which should not surprise us, since the play was written precisely in order to teach these common truths of the Christian religion.