Everyman was written anonymously in the late days of the fifteenth century. As the play begins, the story to be betrayed is described by a foreword. The audience is told to be good in this life and maybe they should look forward to dying for them to go to heaven. Sin always looks good in the eyes of the people at the moment but it brings a lot of sorrow in times of death. At the beginning of the story, God is not happy with His people and feels the unkindness of the people to Him. People in the world are living without any fear and with no thoughts of either heaven or hell. In this play, there is a messenger who comes to take people having contented lives without thinking of the judgment day before God. When death summons him for a soul pilgrimage, he asks to be given more days. Since death is inevitable, it disagrees with everyman and explains to him that it is his duty to come for every living person when the turn comes and hence no chance for a delay. He then tries to get a companion to help him in the travel until he faces God.
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This play is written so well and the anonymous author has been given an uncommon name Everyman which symbolizes the common human being. Death has been well personified in this play in that, it grabs the audience’s attention and makes them think that what is happening is real instead of seeing them as fictional. Everyman dresses in very fine clothing and leads a life full of sins. In the play, he is made aware that he will die and be judged before God. When his time of death comes, everyone deserts him except dies and good deeds. The second character is the fellowship. It is a representation of friendship. All the friends of Everyman were the first people to forsake him. In this play, it is portrayed that fellowship only meant going drinking and not death pilgrimage. The third character is Kindred. This portrays Everyman’s friend who leaves him at his time of need with his cousin. Kindred can be described as from a similar family. This represents the members of his family who deserted him. The fourth character is the goods. This is in the representation of the goods, objects, and belongings. The play tries to drive home the point that despite everything, the belongings and goods can never go to the grave with you.
The first quote is “ye imagine that the beginning of all sweetness is a sin but in the end, it leads to the weeping of the soul.” This quote comes from the opening speech of the messenger. It shows the sin exploration of the play and its damnation. It explores the beginnings and life endings for humans. Secondly, “All creatures are unkind to God and are leaving without fear in the prosperity of the world.” This is a quote from God. He expresses His anger with earthly creatures. In this, we find the conflict between earthly and spiritual beliefs. He is very angry that Everyman focuses on earthly pleasures without putting into consideration sin and damnation. Thirdly, “the ending of our lives shows how we will be all day.” This is seen at the beginning of the play when the messenger announces that, this play has a moral purpose. This quote portrays the fact that there is an end for every beginning and we human beings die in the end. Lastly, “in Holy Trinity’s name, my punished body sores shall be. For the sin of the flesh, take this body.” Everyman curses himself and brings about the spiritual and worldly pictures. His body is what will suffer for his sins of the flesh and there will be the redemption of his soul. When he undergoes the pain of the world, there will be the salvation of his soul.
Yeeyon Im. The scourge of penance and a garment of sorrow. Catholic reforms and the spectacle of the passion in Everyman. Medieval and early modern English studies 24, 2016, p. 131-149.
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