Thesis, Outline, And Bibliography For The Play Everyman
Thesis: In the play Everyman, the author has a peculiar understanding of Death; he believes he is a messenger from God. Like all of mankind, Everyman is not ready for Death. The author believes that Death is sent by God Himself and that no human can avoid it. Everyman attempts to persuade Death to give him an extension on his life. Unfortunately, Death Will not accept Everyman’s riches because he has no use for them. Not all readers will read it the same way.
This 16th century English morality play has an author that is not identified. Everyman is mostly identified as an early medieval play with a connection church drama. Death approaches Everyman to take him to God for Judgement. The character’s names in this play were symbolic to show the mortality in Everyman. They also seem to be Everyman’s inner conflict before he goes to face judgment. The personalities are not individual, but full embodiments of moral qualities and other abstractions (Allegory, 2010)
II. Summary of Characters
Everyman’s author, unnamed, penned a perfect name of the main character to grip his audience. He called him Everyman representative of every human being. Everyman was summoned by God through a Death messenger which he sent. God is our Creator, Righteous, and True. In the opening of the play, God talks about his death experience on the cross for the sins of humankind, the seven deadly sins, and how people take an interest in their pleasures rather than Him. Afterward, He orders Death to show Everyman what type of person he had become by not living by God’s law, and what his punishment must be without escape or delay, which is the day of reckoning for all. The characters in this play illustrate good and evil and its relation to Death. God sends Death to deliver a message because Everyman was ignoring God, which is little unsettling since God represents life, and Death is believed to represent hell. The last enemy that will be destroyed is Death (King James Version)(I Corinthians 15:26). Death comes to Everyman to let him know God has called for his judgment. He heard that his time was up, the fear gripped him for soon he would have to answer for his life and choices on earth. Everyman makes offers and tried to get Death to give more time. Everyman’s main argument was Death did not warn him. He wants to find others to join him on this journey of reckoning. Death does not grant Everyman his request, for when a man is born, they begin to die. Everyman finally accepts that his time is up, but he does not want to go alone. Everyman approaches the symbolic figures in his life, everyone refuses to go with him, each displaying the concern that they did not know him during his life, and would not face God with him. He then began seeking out his earthly friends, Fellowship, Kindred, Cousin, and Goods. He concludes that all of his companions that promised to be with him until the end had abandoned him when he needed them most.
Everyman’s friends all refuse to go with him, he started complaining and whining about who would he could get to go with, he calls on Good Deeds, but to no avail was on the floor weak because Everyman had rarely done any good deeds. Good Deeds asks her sister for Knowledge if she would help Everyman get on with his journey. Knowledge is smart and instructs Everyman on salvation. She helps him learn to receive Christ, and what confession is all about. Confession, The Sacrament of Penance (also commonly called the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession), is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church (Aquinas, 2020). Everyman confesses his sins, and Good Deeds joins him. Everyman calls forth the characters Discretion, Strength, Beauty, and Five-Wits. Combined, they represent the core of his human physical experience (Bradford, 2020). As Everyman gets closer to judgment and ultimately Death, the last of his friends, one at a time, left his side and abandoned him. Knowledge will not take the journey to the grave with him either. Then out of nowhere, Good Deeds agrees to go with him to Heaven and eventually into eternal life. In his Death, the Angel welcomes Everyman to Heaven.
At the end of this play, the character Doctor, who is a scholar, conveys cautionary words. The doctor instructs not to hold things like Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five Wits, dear to our hearts because they will forsake all. Good Deeds, on the other hand, is what we should work on, and the only thing that we take into Heaven. The doctor makes a profound statement that if our deeds are small before God, there will be no help, there are no amends after Death, even mercy and pity will forsake us (Anon., 1528,29).
III. Perception of Death
The author makes it clear that Death is final in all things. Death will be coming for everyone. Inevitably one day, everything that lived will die. The writer shows us that Death is not in our control or on our schedule; it will come whether we are ready for it or not. The characters the author used in this play show us how much our earthly things mean nothing, and we must focus on things of a spiritual realm. At this point, Everyman turns from all his worldly things and focuses on Knowledge and Good Deeds when he repents and asks God to forgive him, is when he is given God’s grace, and accepted into eternity with God. The author’s perception of Death is very Clear, God has complete control over Death, and even is the one that sends him to us, Death is there to do God’s bidding. Humans snub God’s mercy while caught up with the pleasures of life and the pursuit of material possessions, and people neglect to petition the Lord to receive forgiveness for their sins, which He is ever ready to bestow (Cummings, 2010)
The author uses the names of characters in such a way that we understand every man will be found by Death, and it cannot be stopped. Death is very Powerful, imagine Death comes to call on you, wow. Even God says the last enemy that will be destroyed is death’ (I Corinthians 15:26). Death does not spare anyone, rich or poor. Death, when sent by God, is final; There is no do-Over. It is a realm where no man can ever come back.
Furthermore, no man is prepared for Death, and Death is no respecter of life, he comes when God calls. The characters in the play are the embodiment of the trap people fall into in life. There is an overpowering sense of dread and curiosity; Death is an engagement in the diary that must be kept but which you’d do anything to get out of (Roth, 2007).
The play changes Everyman from being a self-centered human like most to a Heaven-ready reality, and from fear to faith with God. The author placed the heaviest value on the question. What happens when Death comes for you. Everyman places focus on monetary and seemingly essential things at the time, but in the end, they all have to be left behind. Through Knowledge (the character), Everyman found the wisdom and courage to be able to finish the journey to his Death. Knowledge shows Everyman to Confession and explains the importance of purging our sins. Only after encountering Knowledge, and Confession did Everyman repent his sins, and feel that he was ready to take his journey. Death as a play is a perfect representation of salvation. Everyman would be allowed to confess, repent, and receive forgiveness and salvation before Death. The author made sure we understand the importance of doing Good Deeds on earth before judgment. Upon the completion of his journey, only Good Deeds goes with Everyman to judgment with God.
Throughout the play, Death is a reminder to Everyman concerning proper values. Everyman becomes able to see people’s true intentions and what they value on this journey. Death was an awakening for Everyman. When Death summoned Everyman, he tried to buy it or pay it out of his way, but with all of his trying falling on dead ears, he finally gave up and accepted his fate. He came to find his actual value and realized that nothing he had in this life is worth keeping. He now recognized how foolish he was and that everything he held dear to him is worthless without salvation.
Everyman faced Death directly; he was permitted to let go of everything he now knows is meaningless. Everyman started an internal transformation when he met Knowledge and was taught about confession. Knowledge is what Everyman needs to accept the truth about God and Life and Salvation. Good Deeds Is terrific and what a friend it is, but good deeds alone did not have the strength until Everyman found faith and was Saved. Look out for God in Everyman, like as he completed all of his penance, Good Deeds grew more durable and stronger. Because he has been long neglected, Good Deeds is in a sorry condition. The more important story is an allegory for the only path to salvation. A person must do good works and receive the blessing and sacraments of the church (Cummings, 2010). Faith and good deeds are incredible but just not enough.
Everyman has a very clear moral, one that is delivered at the beginning, middle, and end of the play. The blatantly religious message is simple: Earthly comforts are fleeting. Only good deeds and God’s grace can provide salvation (Bradford, 2020). Everyman Did good deeds at the end of his life, Was that enough? What do you think? His name is perfect; Everyman (all of us) need Jesus Christ.
- Allegor. (2020). Electronic Encyclopedia. 6th ed. , Retrieved from the academic search database.
- Anon. (1528,29). Everyman. Literature online. Liberty University Pro-Quest. https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/lion/docview/2138577260/Z000050594
- Aquinas, T. (2020). Penance. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
- Bradford, W. (2020). Everyman review. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/everyman-a-medieval-morality-play-2713422
- Cummings, M. J. (2010). Cummings Study Guides/ Everyman. online. https://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides3/Everyman.html
- King James Version. (n.d.). Bible. online. https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/
- Roth, P. (2007). Everyman review. Theguardianreview.com. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2007/mar/25/philiproth