An Analysis and Summary of Everyman
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Everyman is an English morality play but the author is anonymous. The play was written in the 15th century and it is thought to be derived from a Dutch play with the same theme. While the author is unknown, it is believed to be written by a priest. The reason is that the play has a religious content and morale message.
Everyman is the story of a man who suddenly faces with God. There are many characters in the play and one of them is Death who is sent by God to Everyman for his pilgrimage which is his last journey. When God send Death to Everyman, he asks him if he had forgotten his creator because Everyman is very much concerned with worldly things. He is in lust and interested in treasure during his life.
When Death goes to Everyman to take him to his last journey, he wants him to take his full book of of accounts. It means all the good and bad things that he has done during his life. As Everyman is occupied with worldly concerns only and understands that this journey will determine whether he is going to hell or heaven, he cries in vain and asks Death if he has to be alone during the journey. Death tells him that he can have company who may wish to make the journey with him and gives him some time to find one. When Everyman has an opportunity take someone with him, he first remembers Fellowship as they had spent time together in sports and play. When he explains his situation to Fellowship, he says he can even go to hell with him but as soon as Fellowship realizes that they won’t have a return, he changes his mind and does not want to go with Everyman. After that Everyman remembers Kindred. He considers Kindred as a stronger tie than friendship because it is a tie of blood. He thinks that Kindred helps him anyway but unfortunately he is wrong again. When Kindred learns that Everyman must account for his good and bad deeds, he refuses to accompany him. Everyman asks the same thing to his cousin but he doesn’t want to come by saying that he has a cramp in his toe.
Everyman gets into a real hard situation and starts to pity himself. This time he turns to Goods who he has loved very much for his lifetime. But when Goods hears that they have to go to the highest judge which is God, although Everyman tries to persuade him that all wrongs become right with money, he refuses to go too. He also corrects Everyman that if he thinks this way than it is a very big disadvantage in the eyes of the judge since worldly goods are not given but only lent by him.
Everyman is ashamed of his unworthy friends. He asks for the help of Good-Deeds. He asks him to go with him to afterlife but Good-Deeds refuses because Everyman has not done very many good deeds during his life. So, instead of accompanying him, Good-Deeds leads him to Confession. But at the same time, Good-Deed’s sister Knowledge stays with Everyman. She offers Everyman company to guide him to Confession. During her company, Five Wits, Beauty, Strength and Discretion joined Everyman.
Confession lives in the salvation house. Taking pity on Everyman he gives him penance which means Everyman suffers for his sins to shrive his soul. Everyman accepts penance happily given by the priest and gets rid of his characteristics but Knowledge, the cousin of Good-Deeds and Good-Deeds only. After Knowledge leaves, Everyman is released by the priest.
As a result of these incidents,Everyman’s last journey starts which means that his account is ready. When Everyman prepares to meet Death, all of his companions which are Knowledge, Strength, Beauty, Discretion and Five Wits leave him except Good-Deeds. He stays with Everyman until the end of his earthly life. They descend into the grave. An Angel who is chosen as the wife of Jesus welcomes Everyman. His soul is taken from his body and tells that his reckoning is clear.
At the end, a Doctor appears and he actually reminds all men of their last journey. He emphasizes that only Good-Deeds avail the soul at the final judgement.
Everyman is an allegýrical tale of a man who suddenly meets with his Maker. He complains of not to be ready but the time can be determined only by God. As he neglected God, he knows that his pilgrimage cannot be a good one and he fears so he needs to receive some help. After having some disappointments, Everyman listens to the instructions and asks for the forgiveness of God. When he achieves this, he can be together with Good-Deeds again who accompanies him untill the very end.
In the play, Everyman, there are several themes such as the role of spiritual life in the lives of earthly men, correction of moral, the inevitability of death and also men’s relationship with family, kindred, material possessions, good deeds, beauty, strength, discretion, five senses, knowledge and confession.
Although Everyman is a play written in the 15th century, for Middle Ages, it has a modern application to the 21st century. In other words, Everyman gives a universal message. Life is something very precious and noone can know when it is taken from them so everyman should live very carefully by remembering that today can be the last day of life and as a result, they should make things right. Everyone must be aware of his talents. Some people have many talents, some have a few and maybe some people have only one talent but whatever it is, everyman should make use of them wisely because there is only one thing that will help people during the journey and that is something spiritual which is inside of men. These spiritual things, virtues and how they act are told in this play.
Characters in Everyman
There are many characters in the play which represents a different characteristic of the main character. These are used as symbols.
As an example; Beauty, Strength, Discretion, Five Wits exist in a person. They are the characteristics that make up a person whereas they are not he most important one. The character, Good-Deeds is the most one which a person should have to live a good life. Another important character is Knowledge. It is because when Everyman goes Afterlife he has Knowledge with him besides Good-Deeds.
Death represents the messenger of God. When he comes he delivers initiative to Everyman to find something to accompany him for his last journey. In other words, it changes the lives of people.
There is a strong imagination in Everyman. The characters serve as symbols and by this way, a certain idea is given to the readers and/or the actors to have a better understanding.