Everyman and Death: Understanding the Perception and Treatment Jonathan Thomas Liberty University Thesis Statement: In this paper, this writer will evaluate the perception and the treatment of death in Everyman. Outline I. Introduction II. Purpose of Morality Plays III. Main Body: Discussion of Plays Characters a. God b. Death c. Everyman d. Fellowship e. Kindred & Cousin f. Goods g. Good Deeds h. Knowledge i. Confession j. Five Wits i. Beauty ii. Strength iii. Discretion k. Angel l. Doctor IV.
Understanding on Christian faith and biblical scripture in comparison V. Conclusion VI. Reference Everyman and Death: Understanding the Perception and Treatment In life all people must deal with their life and the aspect of death, there is no escape. In Literature, authors often use imagery and experiences in life to help evaluate the human condition and ones’ own experiences in a different manner. The author for Everyman, even though anonymous, has presented an idea of how all individuals must face death and judgment that all will have to face in the presences of God.
In this paper, this writer will evaluate the perception and the treatment of death in Everyman, the character usage and the role judgment play in death concluding with the Christian view of death and judgment in comparison. The importance in the play Everyman, understands the significance and purpose of a morality play. A morality play is an allegorical drama popular in Europe especially during the 15th and 16th centuries, in which characters personify moral qualities or abstractions and in which a moral lesson is taught.
Morality plays were an intermediate step in the transition from liturgical to professional secular drama, and combine elements of each (morality, 2012). In Everyman, the main question that is being considered is what Everyman must do for salvation and how each will perceive death. According to Garner, morality drama, the neglect of performance has been influenced by two more particular factors: the paucity of evidence concerning how these plays actually were performed, and the misleading choice, since Everyman as the paradigmatic morality (1987).
The morality play, in the case of the Everyman, helps the reader understand the what is perceived of the experience of dying and having to go before God a face judgment. In the beginning, God begins by explaining that death will come to Everyman and that following each will face judgment. He is summoning Death to go seek out Everyman to go on a journey that will place him in front of God for judgment. The Death character enters and seeks out Everyman to tell him of the journey that awaits him. Everyman is taken aback, because Death was not an expected guest. Everyman is seen having some internal struggle with the death and udgment of God that he is facing. Everyman tries to ask for more time before having to go before God for judgment or to have another accompany him on his journey. Death will not give him more time, but allows him seek out another to come with him to face judgment. The Everyman begins his journey by seeking out ones to accompany him on his journey to judgment, with the knowledge of not returning. There is a board overview of religious views that Everyman takes in pursuing what he believes will allow him positive judgment from God and not be sent to the depths of hell, but enjoy everlasting life with God.
The initial “kinsmen” is Fellowship, which stands to represent that fellowship with other believers will be able to provide him good favor with the Lord. After all he is with other people that believe as he does so, it is only logically that his would please the Lord; however, Fellowship upon finding out the true nature of Everyman’s request immediately denies his assistance to complete his journey. He attempts the same requests with others kindred, cousin, Goods, knowledge, the five wits and Good Deeds.
All, which in turn, give him the same answer, they initially are grateful and want to do whatever, is requested; however, when the journey lies in judgment and without return. A greater reflection of all characters will be reviewed in further depth. They all give the same response, which is that none are able to accompany him on his journey. In reflection, it is easy to understand that the Everyman have put other things above what God truly wants. He has turned to his goods or riches to help him and even initially attempt to bribe Death, which is another fault.
The everyman wants everything that he has or has obtained to be enough and to grant his with the accompaniment to be judge in front of the Creator. Many times Christians believe that all they they have will please the Lord, that the blessings that have been given to them or that they feel they have accomplished on their own is what will end the end provide them with salvation and good standing with the Lord. These are all false beliefs because as within the play just as Everyman discovers none of these will win or provide good favor with or from the Lord.
When Everyman attempts to convince Goods to go on the journey, without a return. Goods have no intention on stating that they will accompany the everyman. It appears that Everyman is understanding that even though he valued Goods so much and for so long that there is confusion as to why Goods won’t join him. The problem is that Good understands that there is no benefit in going. Goods are only there to provide false beliefs and importance into Everyman’s life. Goods state that they have only been there to deceive the Everyman and that this will only continue with that of another, so there is no reason to accompany the everyman.
Goods will stay and continue to deceive and put false beliefs into more, so they will continue to put their faith in something that will not grant them eternal life and happiness. When Everyman begins his conservation with Knowledge there is another invitation of religious commonalities, Knowledge states “Now go we together lovingly, To Confession, that cleansing river. This appears to reflect a Catholic idea, where one must confess their sins to a priest to show repentance and receive forgiveness,” (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt, 2011).
It appears to indicate that through confession everyman will experience salvation. The conservation with Confession begins. It does seem that through the conversation with Knowledge and Confession that Everyman does understand that there must be prayer to God the Father and an understanding the through Jesus Christ he can be cleanse and repent; however, this appears to only allow him to have his Good Deeds accompany him on his journey. Everyman then attempts to seek out his Good deeds as a way of pleasing the Lord, this is the only that agrees to go with Everyman on his journey.
This reflects many religions, in which that our salvation and pleasing of the Lord comes from our Good deeds within our lifetime. Everyman continues to look for others to go with him on his journey, Beauty, Discretion, Five Wits, and Knowledge, all which chose to leave him after all when finding out that his journey is to the grave. All have sworn to Everyman that they will be with him no matter what, but nothing except his Good Deeds ends up on the journey. The Everyman is being called by the Angel to come now for it is time for judgment.
The final character appears, Doctor, who ends the play and recounts all that Everyman has tried to bring, even in the end when the grave is there no one will be there except his Good Deeds. In Biblical truth, as Christians salvation is truly only granted to us through the belief and acceptance of Jesus Christ. His death on the cross saves us with the knowledge of him ascending into Heaven and the being risen from the dead on the third day. God granted us with an opportunity that there was no other way to be forgiven in this fallen world.
Someone without sin had to pay for all our sins, which in turn was God’s son and only sin free man able to grant this. He came to Earth as a regular man to learn and grow, just as everyman must do, he was tempted and faced sadness and loss. He was able to turn it over and through faith believe that his Heavenly Father was the only way to have true purpose and strength. Then he died at the hands of the very people that he was trying to save. Throughout life, there will be pain and hardship and even though God does want us to have fellowship with others and do good deeds to fellow man.
The true understanding is that the only real way in Heaven is through none of those things, but through belief in Jesus Christ as the Lords Son and his death and resurrection. We are to put nothing above our commitment to the Lord, not people, wealth, material processions, or the good deeds we do. The Lord wants us to pursue a good life and follow his laws; however, these will not effect your salvation in any way, nor will assist on the journey to everyone’s day of judgment, Jesus Christ is the only way to find good favor with the Lord. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Holy Bible, 2011). Death should not be something that is feared by Everyman, it is another stage in our life’s journey, if we have accepted Jesus Christ then, there is nothing to be afraid when the final Day of Judgment comes, and Jesus will be with us on our day of judgment. The Everyman seeks to find anything and everything else but none will truly help in to where he must go. Even though the moral attitude of this play is about being allowed into Heaven through our Good deeds in our life this of course is not the case.
We have been saved through the blood of Christ and his resurrection. Reference Adu-Gyamfi, Y. & Schmidt, M. (2011). Literature and Spirituality. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education. pg. 265-287 Bloemendal, J. (2009). Transfer and Integration of Latin and Vernacular Drama in the Early Modern Period. The case of Everyman, Elckerlijc, Homulus and Hecastus. Arcadia — International Journal For Literary Studies, 44(2), 274- 288. doi:10. 1515/ARCA. 2009. 017 Garner Jr. , S. B. (1987). Theatricality in Mankind and Everyman. Studies In Philology, 4(3), 272. Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ® Ladd, R. A. (2007). “My condicion is mannes soule to kill”–Everyman’s Mercantile Salvation. Comparative Drama, 41(1), 57-78. Morality play. (2012). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/391805/morality-play/391805suppinfo/Supplemental-Information Rasmussen, E. (1985). SHAKESPEARE’S USE OF EVERYMAN IN TIMON OF ATHENS. American Notes & Queries, 23(9/10), 131.
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