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Everyman: A Morality Play Essay


EVERYMAN - A Moral Play

Plot Everyman, English morality play written anonymously in the late 15th century. The play is an allegory of death and the fate of the soul. Summoned by Death, Everyman calls on Fellowship, Goods, and Strength for help, but they desert him. Only Good Deeds and Knowledge remain faithful and lead him toward salvation. It is generally considered the finest of the morality plays.

Characters: Every character represents a different characteristic of the main character, Everyman. The characters are used as symbols. Beauty, Strength, and Discretion are examples of some different characteristics that were expressed in Everyman .These characteristics are assumed to make up a person. However, it is proven that these characteristics make up a person, but they are not the most important. The most important characteristic in a person is doing good deeds. Knowledge also makes up who a person can be. Everyman had many important characteristics in his life. When Everyman went to the Afterlife, the only thing that went with Everyman was his knowledge, and his Good Deeds.

Death was an important character in Everyman . Death symbolized a messenger of god. He was the figure that went down to Earth to retrieve Everyman and take him to the afterlife. Death was a significant part of Everyman because he was the deliverer of Everymans initiative to find something to accompany him to his forever journey, to heaven or to hell. Death is the character that changes lives.

Miracle, Mystery, and Morality Plays, generic terms given to the English dramas of medieval times (from the 5th century to about the 15th century). These plays developed from the liturgy of the Roman Catholic church after 1210 when a papal edict forbade members of the clergy from appearing on a stage in public. Such plays had considerable influence on the work of the great English dramatists of the 1500s and 1600s.

When the simple scenes from the Bible that had become part of the liturgy could no longer be performed by the priests early in the 13th century, the miracle plays came into existence. These plays had as subject matter the miracles performed by the saints or, more frequently, scenes from the Old and New Testaments. Miracle plays, also known as Saint Plays, in crude form were presented at Easter and on other holy days. They gained a formalized structure in the late 13th or early 14th century and reached the height of their popularity in the 15th and 16th centuries. Miracle plays dealing with the legends of the saints were less realistic and more religious in tone than those concerned with biblical episodes, and were eventually superseded by the latter.

The plays were generally given in cycles, or sequences of related scenes, each of which required only a short time to perform. Each scene was acted by members of one of the trade guilds of the town. The cycles presented the Christian history of God and humanity, from the creation of human beings and the world to final judgment. The important cycles, named after the towns in which they were notably performed, are the Chester (25 scenes), the Wakefield (30 scenes), the York (48 scenes), the Norwich, and the Coventry plays. The cycles were generally performed outdoors on festival days and particularly on the feast of Corpus Christi. Each guild acted its assigned scene on its own wagon or float on wheels, which could be moved from one place to another for repeated performances.

To the scenes from the Bible the anonymous playwrights added interludes consisting of realistic comedy based on situations and ideas of a contemporary nature. The miracle play, therefore, was not only a biblical drama or scene, but also included scenes of realistic medieval comedy. The best-known miracle play is the Second Shepherd's Play of the Wakefield Cycle. This story of the shepherds watching their flock in the fields on the night of Christ's birth is enlivened by the comic episode in which one of the sheep is stolen; the thief hides the sheep in a cradle in his home and, brought to bay, pretends the little animal is a baby girl.

The term mystery play, also called a Corpus Christi play or simply mystery, is sometimes used synonymously with miracle play. Some literary authorities make a distinction between the two, designating as mystery plays all types of early medieval drama that draw their subject matter from Gospel events and as miracle plays all those dealing with legends of the saints.

Sometimes known simply as a morality, the morality play was most popular in the 15th and early 16th centuries. It was designed to instruct audiences in the Christian way of life and the Christian attitude toward death. The general theme of the morality play is the conflict between good and evil for the human soul; the play always ends with the saving of the soul. The characters of the morality play are not the saints or biblical personages of the miracle play, but personifications of such abstractions as flesh, gluttony, lechery, sloth, pride, envy, hope, charity, riches, and strength.

Some of the moralities were anonymous; others were by known authors. The best known of the former type is Everyman (late 15th century), which probably was derived from a Dutch source but was thoroughly Anglicized. In the play the protagonist Everyman learns that everything material he has gained in life deserts him as he journeys into the Valley of Death; in the end only the allegorical personage Good Deeds accompanies him.

The author of Everyman had a very unique style of writing. He used a technique called imagery. Imagery is the use o images or symbols to help represent a certain character or idea. Imagery is a very good technique to use because it allows the reader to visualize the text as they read the play. Imagery also gives the actor a better understanding of the text which helps them in their acting.

Everyman is a play that teaches a moral. The universal theme or moral in this play is "Do good deeds and obtain as much knowledge that you possibly can because everything good thing that you do and everything that you learn will stay with you for your whole life and you will be recognized or everything that you do, sooner or later."

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