The main characters in Everyman are Everyman, Fellowship, Cousin, Kindred, Goods, Good-Deeds, Knowledge, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, the Five Wits, God, and Death.
- Everyman is an allegorical figure who represents all of humanity.
- Fellowship is the allegorical representation of Everyman's friends.
- Cousin and Kindred are Everyman's family.
- Goods are Everyman's material possessions.
- Good-Deeds are the good deeds which Everyman performed in life.
- Knowledge advises Everyman to confess his sins.
- Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five Wits accompany Everyman to the Gates of Heaven.
- God sits in judgment of Everyman.
- Death delivers the message that Everyman will be judged by God.
Last Updated on February 11, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 232
God, who has decided to have a reckoning of all men.
Death, who is summoned to receive God’s instructions to search out Everyman. Death agrees to give Everyman some time to gather companions to make the journey with him.
Everyman, whom Death approaches and orders to make the long journey to Paradise to give an accounting for his life.
Good-Deeds, the one companion who can and will make the entire journey with Everyman. Everyman finds Good-Deeds too weak to stir, but after Everyman accepts penance, Good-Deeds is fit for the journey.
Knowledge, the sister of Good-Deeds. Knowledge offers to guide Everyman but cannot go with him into the presence of his maker.
Confession, who lives in the house of salvation. Confession gives penance to Everyman.
The Five Wits
The Five Wits, companions who go part of the way with Everyman.
Goods, to whom Everyman turns for companions. All offer to help but refuse when they learn the nature of the journey.
A messenger, who appears in the prologue to announce a moral play to the audience. He warns that people should look to the end of their lives.
A doctor, who appears at the end to remind the audience that only Good-Deeds will avail at the final judgment.
Last Updated on February 11, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1078
The Angel appears briefly at the play's conclusion to accept Everyman into God's domain. Because of his virtue, Everyman will be accepted immediately into heaven with God.
Beauty is one of the companions that Everyman calls forth to accompany him for part of his journey to God. And while beauty can offer some comfort to Everyman, it is the first to depart when man begins the final journey to death.
Knowledge leads Everyman to Confession. Confession represents man's best opportunity for salvation, since acknowledging Everyman's sins and asking God for forgiveness is an important element of Catholicism. Although Knowledge can accompany Everyman part way on his journey, Knowledge cannot complete the journey with him.
When approached by Everyman, Cousin also declines to join his relative on his last journey. Instead, he states he would rather subsist on bread and water for five years than face God's judgment.
Death is the means by which God will force Everyman to undertake a pilgrimage to God's forgiveness. He seeks out Everyman, whom he describes as only focused on earthly lusts and money. Death tells Everyman that he is to begin his final journey immediately and refuses an offer of riches, but Death finally allows Everyman an opportunity to prepare for his journey and to seek out a friend who might accompany him. Death is allegorical, as are all characters in this play.
Discretion is one of the companions that Everyman calls forth to accompany him for part of his journey to God's final judgment. Discretion represents Everyman's ability to do the correct thing, to make the right choices in following God.
A doctor of theology makes the final speech. He tells the audience to remember that all of Everyman's companions—Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five Wits—abandoned him on his final journey. It is only man's good deeds that will save him.
Everyman is a wealthy man who is suddenly called by Death to begin his journey to God. Everyman is not ready to go, since he has not prepared for this day and has more sins than good deeds to his credit. He pleads with Death to give him a brief time to find friends who will be willing to accompany him on his pilgrimage. After being rejected by friends, family, and his own wealth, Everyman comes to realize that he has put his faith in the wrong things. Through the guidance of Knowledge and Good-Deeds, Everyman is prepared to make a final appearance before God. In the end, after all his earthly friends and companions have abandoned him, it is only his Good-Deeds that speak for Everyman's worth. Everyman is allegorical and represents the choices open to all men.
Fellowship is the first friend that Everyman greets. Initially Fellowship is willing to help Everyman in whatever way he needs, but upon learning of Everyman's request, Fellowship is forced to deny him. The journey to face God is not one he is willing to make. Like all the other characters, Fellowship is allegorical and represents man's reliance upon earthy, transient, and superficial friendships, which are not a part of man's heavenly life. While Fellowship is Everyman's friend in drinking and lusting after women, he will not face God's judgment with his friend.
Five Wits are the counselors that Everyman calls forth to accompany him for part of his journey to God. The Five Wits represent man's senses and the ability to understand God's commandments and the world around him. The senses lead to reason and a way in which Everyman is able to understand and appreciate the world he inhabits.
God is the first character to speak and tells the audience that man appears to have forgotten the sacrifice that God made at the crucifixion. Instead, man lives in wicked sin. God, who is angry, calls Death to bring forth a reckoning of those sinners who have ignored God's mercy.
Good-Deeds is at first very weak and cannot rise up from the ground, since Everyman's sin keeps her bound. But she instructs Everyman to seek out knowledge for help in preparing for his journey. After Everyman has done as Knowledge instructs, Good-Deeds is ready to accompany Everyman before God. It is man's good deeds that will speak for his worth at God's final judgment. Good-Deeds is the only character who can accompany Everyman the entire way and, as such, is representative of Catholic belief that it is a reliance on good deeds that will provide man with salvation before God.
Goods represents all the riches that Everyman has accumulated in his lifetime. Goods also declines to accompany Everyman on his pilgrimage, reminding him that Goods cannot leave the earthly realm (reinforcing the cliche ‘‘you can't take it with you’’). Goods also reminds Everyman that it is because of his focus on material wealth that he is now at risk before God's judgment. Goods has been lent to Everyman for only a short period of time, he tells him, and now he will move on to deceive another man. Goods is another allegorical figure that represents man's interest in riches rather than prayer.
Like Cousin, Kindred also forsakes Everyman's pleas. He tells him he would give him a wanton woman to enjoy, but he will not accompany Everyman to answer before God. Kindred and Cousin both indicate that man cannot trust upon family to intercede before God.
Knowledge leads to Everyman's redemption, because it is knowledge of his sins that leads Everyman to ask for God's forgiveness. Knowledge represents a consciousness of Christianity and God's will and is the fundamental tenet of salvation. While Knowledge can lead Everyman to Good-Deeds, Knowledge cannot accompany him all the way on his journey before God, indicating that learning has only limited utility in saving one's soul.
A messenger appears in the prologue to introduce the play and its subject matter. This messenger reminds the audience that while sin may be enjoyed during life, by the end of life, it will cause the soul to weep. The messenger also reminds the audience that the material, transient things that man values in his corporeal existence will be worthless in the next life.
Strength is one of the companions that Everyman calls forth to accompany him for part of his journey to God. Strength will make Everyman stronger for his journey, but as he prepares for death, the strength of the body also leaves, and finally Strength is forced to abandon the final journey.