The play, Everyman is a medieval English is best known for the outside fields of medieval drama. “The play is considered to be a great work of art in its own right and os normally seen as the prototypical medieval English morality play.” (Steenburgge) No one knows who wrote the play Everyman, however historians believes that monks and priests often wrote these types of plays and dramas.
“Many morality plays were a collaborative effort by clergymen and residents (often tradesmen and guild members) of the English town. Over the years, lines would be changed, added, and deleted.” (Brandford) Everyman is the result of multiple authors and decades of literary evolution. In Everyman, “God decides that Everyman (a character who represents your average, everyday human) has become too obsessed with wealth and material possessions. Therefore, Everyman must be taught a lesson in piety. And who better to teach a life-lesson than a character named Death?” (Brandford) In Everyman, the author discusses how death affects each of our lives. Every human being is affected by death and the earthly comforts everyone enjoys before death.
The author of Everyman is very clear that death is unavoidable and should not be feared because Jesus Christ here for salvation. God’s top complaint is that humans are ignoring their sinful lives and are completely unaware that Jesus died for their sins. “Everyman has been living for his own pleasure, forgetting about the importance of charity and the potential threat of eternal hellfire.” (Brandford) Death summons Everyman to take a journey to the Almighty. “When Everyman realizes that the Grim Reaper has called upon him to face God and give a reckoning of his life, he tries to bribe Death to “defer this matter till another day.”” (Brandford) However, the bargaining does not work and Everyman must go before God when they pass. “Death does say that our hapless hero can take along anyone or anything that may benefit him during this spiritual trial.” (Brandford) After Death leaves Everyman to prepare for his day before The Lord, Everyman approaches the character named Fellowship.
“When Fellowship learns that Everyman is in trouble, he promises to stay with him until the problem is resolved. However, as soon as Everyman reveals that Death has summoned him to stand before God, Fellowship ditches the poor guy.” (Brandford) The character Knowledge explains to Everyman that he won’t be going into the “heavenly sphere”, but he, Knowledge, will stay with Everyman until he departs from his physical body. The author implies that the soul does not keep its “earthly” knowledge. (Brandford) However, Good Deeds, the only friend willing to accompany Everyman into the afterlife, Everyman commends his soul to the Lord. After Everyman’s death, an Angel arrives to announce his soul has been taken from his body and presented before God.
(Brandford) “A final narrator enters to explain to the audience that we should all head the lessons of Everyman. Everything in our lives is fleeting, with the exception of our acts of kindness and charity.” (Brandford) Everyman presents a Roman Catholic point of view, which was very popular when this play was written. “The central character, representing every man and woman, earns his eternal reward through good works and reception of the sacraments of the church, such as penance (confession) and the Holy Eucharist.” (Cummings) The popular view of the Roman Catholic is very evident throughout the entry of the poem.
The unknown author or authors, makes it clear that “no human being can escape final judgement.” (Cummings) “God tells Death that the day will come when every person must undertake a final journey and give an accounting of his life before the Lord. No man can escape this task; every person will face a day of reckoning.
” (Cummings) So, what did the mysterious author want the reader to take way after reading this poem? The author wanted to make it clear that death is not something anyone can escape or simply avoid. The author tells the reader that death will happen to everyone and everyone will face The Lord on judgment day. The Bible also says that everyone will meet The Lord on judgement day, where in 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
” No one can escape the simple fact that, like the Everyman in the poem, Death will accompany everyone to their death. Death puts an end to people’s lives and there is nothing that humans can do to stop that. When someone dies, one has to forget the plans and dreams that he or she had made when alive. By the time someone dies, the importance of plans doesn’t matter because material things can not be taken to the grave. One has to forget their inspirations in life, and their ambitions.
When Everyman realizes this, when he learns that he cannot use any of those things to save him from death. All friends and relatives have abandoned him. His worldly possessions cannot do anything for him. The knowledge he has acquired can only help him when he is alive. His personal attributes, which include strength, beauty, and discretion, cannot help him in any way.
He cannot even rely on his five wits to help him on his final journey. However, Death is not always doom and gloom and not always a bad thing because it leads to a person’s salvation. In the play, God sends Death to lead Everyman to his final days on earth. By the end of the play, Everyman realised will spend his eternity with God in heaven.
However, in this case, the author does not treat death with condemnation. The unknown author or authors, sees it as a way for people to live free from sin and all kinds to suffering. The author says when people are with God, they do not have to be troubled because they do not have to worry or spend time thinking of the worries of the world. The author says how Jesus had to hang on the cross in terrible pain just so that people might receive salvation. So, in this case, death is not a bad thing, as it shows there is a way for people’s redemption and salvation. The author wants the reader to know that death of Jesus gives people hope for eternity. This gives people a reason to hope for better things after they depart from this earth.
Death brings people to repentance and conviction. People dread death and will do anything to avoid it. It is only when Everyman realizes that he is facing death, that he becomes sorrowful and mournful.
Everyman appears arrogant and proud before he realizes that he is facing death. When Death asks Everyman whether he has forgotten his maker. Everman responds by asking Death, “Who wants to know?” and he also ask Death what God wants from him. When Everyman realizes that he has no way of escaping death, he looks for ways to escape death, and he turns to repentance. He realizes how he was wrong in pursuing earthly pleasures over pursuing God.
He comes to full repentance when those he had held dear and close to him, abandon him, and let him face the journey alone. Everyman calls them false hopes and traitors, who only deceived him. He realizes that he is at fault, and he is the only one to blame for his actions. Also, Everyman realizes that he was wrong for he did not do any good deeds in his life.
Everyman sees Good Deeds as his final hope, for without him, he will have to spend his eternity in hell. Were it not for death, Everyman would not have known the full extent of his actions. If Death had not appeared, Everyman would not have known the importance of being good and charitable to other people. The character Goods, reveals that Everyman should have been wiser, and he should have shared his goods and wealth with the poor after Everyone shares his predicaments.
The bottom line is, Death puts an end to people’s lives and when someone dies, he or she has to forget the plans and dreams that he had. He or she has to forget his inspiration in life, and his ambitions, his relatives, friends and all his acquaintances. He or she must forget their talents, skills, their abilities, and knowledge. Everyman realizes this, when he learns that he can not use any of those things to save him from death.
Everyman’s worldly possessions can not do anything for him. The knowledge he has acquired can only help him when he is alive. His personal attributes, which include strength, beauty, and discretion, and can not help him in any way. He can not rely on his five wits to help him on his final journey. In the play, Death dares Everyman to find anyone who is willing to travel with him and accompany him before God. (Robinson, 2011) Everyman faces the fact that all his friends and relatives deceive him, and do not care much about him.
The character, Good Fellowship, promises that he will go to him in hell, while another acquaintance promises to be with him through thick and thin. Any other promises never to abandon him and another promises that was made to him was the promise that he will be with he in riches and poverty. With all these promises, one would be tempted think that Everyman has remarkably good and loyal friends.