Everyman and Its Message
Morality is the conformity to the rules of right conduct. People need something to go by to know what is right or wrong. The play of Everyman, a medieval morality play, addresses what one must do to lead a heaven bound life. This allegorical tale is about a man representative of mankind literally meeting his maker, God. Before his day of reckoning God sends death to tell Everyman that he will be put through final judgment. He learns that he must undergo a pilgrimage to make it into salvation and is also an account of the journey of life. The play conveys the churchs message efficiently by using the serious theme of inevitable death. Everyman teaches the audience many valuable and important moral lessons throughout the play including sharing, barrenness of the promises given by people, and to be accountable to God. This play was supposedly written by a priest being another indication that the plays intended purpose was to show and teach people the Roman Catholic perspective on morality. The Catholic religion is a very forgiving religion. The play Everyman is used as a mere tool to incline people to do good deeds telling readers that worldly possessions and pleasures cannot be taken with us to the afterlife.
Reflecting the churchs views, Everyman is admitted into heaven through his good works and in receiving the sacraments of the church. The characteristic of good deeds is also a character as well as many other characteristics in Everyman such as Knowledge, Discretion, Strength, and Five Wits. With the aid of his friends Everyman was able to receive his last rites before his time has come. Even though Everyman represents just that Every man, he cannot be representative of every human being. He chooses to be on the straight and narrow once he finds out death is approaching him. At first Everyman offers Death goods but he refuses and tells he does not discriminate against anyone further illustrated by Deaths quote Everyman, it may not be, by no way. I set not by gold, silver, nor riches, Ne by pope, emperor, king, duke, ne princes; For, and I would receive gifts great, All the world I might get; But my custom is clean contrary. I give thee no respite. Come hence, and not tarry (Page 144). Death gave Everyman the motivation to find someone to support him on his day of reckoning. The journey of life varies for every person, but if faced with adversity one might take the initiative to change their ways as Everyman has done.
The first person Everyman turns to is Fellowship, a character embodying his friends. Fellowship assures Everyman that he would go to great lengths and do anything for Everyman. This gives Everyman false hope thinking Fellowship will accompany him on his journey to face God and his judgment. Once Fellowship learns of this he refuses to g o even though he just claimed he would even murder for Everyman. This was an example of empty promises friends make and that in the end all you really have is your good deeds to carry yourself in heaven. However, good deeds are not the only sole attribute to living a good Christian life but a culmination of knowledge to get what you need to live for tomorrow. The importance of good deeds is showcased as the right thing to do.
In the play God is angered by people and how they take him for granted. He knows that man in the moment, are deceived by sin by indulging in material things and pursuing pleasures thinking that its all they need. God talks about man and how riches amount to nothing in the afterlife. At the beginning of the play God talks about the theme Goods versus God saying I perceive, here in my majesty, How that all the creatures be to me unkind, Living without, dread in worldly prosperity: Of ghostly sight the people be so blind, Drowned in sin, they know me not for their God; In worldly riches is all their mind, They fear not my righteousness, the sharp rod (Page 143). This adds to the message that people have lost their way and have become immoral. This makes readers question their own morality.
The play of Everyman was almost a guideline not only to live a moral Christian life but, also just being a good person. The deep message within the play exhibits the churchs view on how to redeem oneself effectively. The allegorical characters and how they interact with Everyman makes the story efficient in educating people about morals. Once Everyman has gone through scourging, confession and his last rights, at the end of the play Knowledge acknowledges Everymans good deeds by stating Now hath he suffered that we shall endure; The Good Deeds shall make all sure (Page 153). The fact that no human can escape death urges people to listen when advice is given on conducting oneself in unison with the fear people have about death gets the message across easily. The whole play answers the question How do I make it into heaven.