In the play “Everyman” the author gives a Christian moral message to readers with the use of metaphor and the transition of death and when someone dies nothing can be taken with us, therefore, we should live our lives as if today were the last, not taking into account what the Bible teaches,” there is a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
This is a medieval play written in the fifteenth century with an unknown author It is one of the best known Christian morality plays ever written, with no one to give the credit. The play can be easily understood by anyone regardless of what level of intellect. “The script’s very simplicity results in a relentless, inevitable power as ‘Everyman” takes his journey to the grave” (Lloyd, R. 1998). “Everyman” apparently survives on the strength of its central theme: that the recognition of one’s mortality forces reconsideration of personal values and a search for salvation” (Homan, R. 1991).
In the play “Everyman” the author gives a Christian moral message to readers with the use of metaphor and the transition of death and when we die nothing can be taken with us, therefore, we should live our lives as if today were the last, not taking into account what the Bible teaches,” there is a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
In the play “Everyman”, main character, is summoned to God by another character, Death. This sounds dark but is in fact a beautiful rendition of “Everyman’s” journey through life, aquiring material possessions, looking for companionship to take this journey with him to judgment only to realize that death will strip him of everything and God does not care about all the wealth, friends or good deeds that one has acquired in this life. This is when “Everyman” comes to realize that God only wants people to do good deeds; that this is what humans will be judged by.” (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt). “Produce, fruit in keeping with repentance.” [(Matthew 3:8) “
Like other morality plays this play is to communicate a simple moral message to both educated and illiterate audiences” (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt). “Everyman” delivers a message to the readers that presents a strong Christian moral theme with the use of metaphors, parables and a good perception of death, that when death comes no material goods will be useful in the afterlife.” (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt). Everyone should live each day to the fullest and be ready for judgment. “For man also knoweth not his time”. (Ecclesiastes 9:12, KJV)
Death is recognized and treated differently by Everyman throughout play. The authors’ use of metaphors in “Everyman” is both powerful and effective. The protagonist, Everyman, who portrays everyman, is to be seen by all.
During his journey “Everyman” is meets, Fellowship, Kindred, and Cousin, that represent friends and family who do support him in life and cannot help him in the afterlife. Therefore, all leave him in the end. “Knowledge is what he has learned through his life. Goods is everything that Everyman has acquired during his time on Earth. Fellowship is, of course, the friends that Everyman has met, and Strength who portrays physical strength”. (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt) One must confess their sins to stay in God’s good graces, this is of the Catholic faith called Confession. Then we have Good Deeds, who portrays only a small part to start but enhances as “Everyman” realizes the more important things of life.
God is the most important and biggest character in the play but is only present at the beginning with concerns that Everyman does not realize how distant he is from him. The author presents two main characters, God and Everyman. Although he gives Death a pretty important role as his, so to speak, right hand man. Beauty and the five wits are the five senses but leave when Death is summoned.
God summons Death to bring “Everyman” before him for judgement. God’s people are not prepared for death and he is greatly disappointment His people continue to go through life unconcerned they are sinning and forgetting about the need for God until death is upon them. That’s why he gave the “Ten Commandments” for us to live by and help secure the way our lives unfold, and it also provides the tools and instructions to live a Christian life. However, it is a personal choice what one does with Gods’ gifts.
Death prepares Everyman for the journey, he tells him he can take anything he thinks that will help him at judgement, whether it be what or who may stand with him and make a difference in front of God.
DEATH. On thee though must take a long journey;
Therefore, thy book of the count with thee thou bring,
For turn again thou cannot by no way.
And look thou be sure of thy reckoning,
For before God thou shalt answer, and show
Thy many bad deeds, and good but a few;
How thou hast spent thy life, and in what wise,
Before the chief Lord of paradise. (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt)
EVERYMAN. Alas, I am so faint I may not stand;
My limbs under me doth fold.
Friends let us not turn again to this land,
Not for all the world’s gold;
For into this cave must I creep
And turn to earth, and there to sleep. (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt)
Death portrays the great messenger to every man, of whom no one can escape. One. fears death only because of the unknown uncertainty. Earthly possessions cannot be taken, only God and faith are needed in heaven. In this play, Knowledge leads to Confession, then to Good Deeds which ended up being the only thing that Everyman could take with him to death. ‘Everyman” is lead through step by step process to come to the realization that things that are hidden in life were the very things that would hold him backed from the heaven. This holds true today in everyone’s life and Christians must remember that money does not bring happiness. “Money is not something that is morally neutral, a resource to be used in good or bad ways depending solely upon our attitude toward it. Mammon is a power that seeks to dominate us. (Ford 2009) The overall message of this morality play conflicts with the true meaning of Christ. The main character “Everyman” goes through life gaining great wealth and prestige only to realize that doing good deeds in life and being charitable are what will bring him closer to God and his good graces. “This misdirected desire must be supplanted by a different attitude toward wealth, one that subordinates material value to spiritual value and even finds ways of converting the former into the latter” (Harper, E., 2006) That’s not necessarily true regarding the Christian faith. One must just accept the fact that Jesus Christ is the savior and only son of God. That He came to this earth in the form of a human, lived, died, set us free from sin. If a person believes that then that person is saved regardless of good deeds. this is not to say that nothing can be learned from “Everyman”.
The anonymous author gives a strong Christian moral message to readers with the use of metaphors and the transition of death, knowing when someone dies nothing can be taken with them, therefore, we should live our lives as if today were the last, taking into consideration what the Bible teaches,” there is a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8KJV)
- Adu-Gyamfi Y. and Schmidt M.R. (2011). Literature and Spirituality. Everyman. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education Inc.
- Harper, E. and Mize, B, Material Economy, and Social Critique in “Everyman”. 2006, retrieved from website:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41154317?seq=1#page_scan_tab_content
- Homan, Richard L. (1991). The Everyman Move, Circa 1991 Journal of Popular Film & Television, volume 25, 1997, issue 1, pgs. 21-30, Retrieved from website:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01956059709602746
- Lloyd, R “Everyman; Tale of Death that Aches with Life”, The Washington Post 1998. Retrieved from website: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1998/06/25/everyman-a-tale-of-death-that-aches-
- Ford, C., “Money: Good or Bad?”, Money help for Christian, 2009; Retrieved from http://moneyhelpforchristians.com/money-good-or-bad/
- Holy Bible, King James Version, Nelson, Inc., 1970, China