Everyman: Middle English Morality Play - Summary

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      Everyman is a masterpiece of a morality play that has survived on the stage even till today. It was very popular down to the age of the Reformation and has been recently revived in England and the U.S.A. It is a "moral play, showing how the Father of heaven sendeth Death of summon every creature to come and give an account of their lives in this world". Like a Greek drama, it starts with a crisis. Everyman stands for the human soul, God has sent Death to summon Everyman. He prays for a respite of a few hours in which he will gather friends who will accompany him in his last journey. The prayer is granted. Everyman appeals to Fellowship, Kindred and to Goods but in vain. Then he remembers Good Deeds, whom he had long abandoned and who lies on the ground, weak and miserable. Good Deeds recommends him to his sister Knowledge, who sends him to confession.


      Everyman is shriven by Confession and becomes ready to meet God. When he reaches the grave Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five Wits who had earlier promised him help, desert him. Knowledge is willing to go but he has not power to go. Only Good Deeds is left. She promises "Everyman, I will go with thee and be the guide." Thus Everyman dies purged of sin and forgiven by God. Thus the play is an allegorical representation of the message of Christianity. The dialogue has lilt and go. Its pathos is impressive. Sincerity is its main note. With a little more of poetry and less of dullness, the play would have been a masterpiece of tragedy. lt attempts plot construction and characterization. Abstract qualities are made concrete, The end is sober. It marks a distinct advance on the dramatic art.

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