Everyman is an English morality play written by an anonymous author in the late fifteenth century. It is an allegorical play as well, and may have been based on an earlier Dutch morality play. In the beginning of the play, a foreword describes the message the story will portray. A messenger tells the audience that people should be good in life, and look forward to death so they may go to heaven. Sin seems good to people at the time, but it will bring about sorrow when they die. When the story begins, God is unhappy with the people in the world, and says these people are unkind to him.Order now
God believes they are only interested in secular riches and don’t fear his justice. The seven deadly sins are now an accepted ritual in daily life. One man in particular, Everyman, seeks his own pleasure and does not thank God. God calls on Death to bring him Everyman. Death tells God that Everyman is not expecting Death yet, but God tells Death to bring him anyway. When Death meets Everyman, Everyman asks him why he has come. Death tells Everyman that he has forgotten God, and lives a bad life. Death then asks Everyman to give his life account to God.
This life is mostly bad ith a few good deeds. Everyman bribes Death to come back another day if Everyman gave one thousand pounds. Death tells Everyman that the richest man would never die if he accepted bribes. Everyman continues to plead, however, asking if he could have another twelve years to turn his life around, or if he could take someone with him. Death responds by telling Everyman that he is smart, but hasn’t used his knowledge to change his life. Death then tells Everyman to go and see if anyone would come with him.
Everyman then departs and tries to find someone to go with him. He calls upon Fellowship, and asks if he will go. When Everyman tells Fellowship that he will never come back, Fellowship will not go with Everyman. Next, Everyman calls upon his friends and kinsman to go with him. Everyman tells them that Death has come for an account of his life, and that he will accept Everyman to take someone with him. Kindred says he will not go, then Cousin tells Everyman he has a cramp in his toe, and this is why he cannot go.
Kindred says that he will give Everyman his maid, and that she will go with him. However, Everyman realizes he has been eceived and leaves. Everyman then finds Goods and Riches, and asks him to go along with Everyman. Goods and Riches is packed away in chests and is forgotten, and Everyman tells him that money makes everything that is wrong right, so he should go with him. However, Goods and Riches is too brittle to go, and tells Everyman that if he shared Goods and Riches with the poor, then he would not have to take this journey. He then tells Everyman that he is a thief.
Now Everyman realizes that Kindred, Cousin, and Goods and Riches have all orsaken him, and that he must call upon the weak Good Deeds for help. Good Deeds is weak because he is never used. Good Deeds tells Everyman to do as he says, and he and his sister Knowledge will go with him on his journey. Knowledge says he must first go to confession, and that if he asks for forgiveness of his sins from God, they will be forgiven. Everyman asks for forgiveness, then prays for Mary to help him, and save him from his enemy, Death. Because Everyman goes to confession, Good Deeds and Knowledge will go with Everyman on his journey.
Everyman puts on a robe to shown his forgiveness, and believes the three are ready to depart on the journey when Good Deeds tells Everyman he must first meet with Discretion, Strength, Beauty, and Five Wits. These four tell Everyman they will also accompany Everyman on his journey. Knowledge tells Everyman he must first receive the sacrament of Extreme Unction from a priest before he dies. During the Middle Ages, priests are believed to have been all-powerful. They were above all men, and believed to have been given the power to cure all; they are able to ure men’s redemption.
However, like Chaucer, the author of Everyman was aware that some religious figures led worldly and often lustful lives, and used the play as an opportunity to satirize these clergy members. In the story, Knowledge gives a warning to these respected religious members. Finally, Everyman makes it to his grave, where Discretion, Strength, Beauty, and Five Wits realize that their going along on the journey with Everyman meant death. All four quickly gave excuses to leave Everyman, and do not embark upon the journey with him.
Good Deeds tells Everyman that earthly things are vanity, and that Good Deeds and Knowledge are good and remain forever. Everyman then gives himself to the grave in the presence of Good Deeds and Knowledge. In the end of the play, the Doctor tells the audience that Pride, Beauty, Five Wits, Strength, and Discretion leave them, and that nothing other than Good Deeds and Knowledge will help them when they are judged at death by God. If a person lives his life with courtesy and care while gaining knowledge and performing good deeds, he will be placed in heaven with God.