Everyman is an English morality play whose author is unknown, this is a play that makes use of allegorical characters in order to represent the values in which Everyman holds or adheres to during his lifetime. Everyman has disregarded his spiritual life, the neglect is evident, yet as the play unfolds Everyman asks for forgiveness of the sins he has committed, and for his oversight of spiritual matters for so long. The turning point in the play is when Everyman is summoned by Death, he realizes that he is not ready to die, nor does he want to do so alone.
ii. Summary of Characters
iii. Author’s Perception of Death
In the play Everyman, the anonymous author does just that, with characters named amply. The main character Everyman is symbolic of the average person as he realizes too late that he has put his focus in life on the wrong things. The play “achieves a beautiful, simple solemnity in treating allegorically the theme of death and the fate of the human soul—of Everyman’s soul as he tries to justify his time on earth.” (Everyman, Britannica 2013)
The supporting characters the author includes in the play are, Knowledge, Kindred, Beauty, Discretion, Strength, Five Wits, Fellowship, and Good Deeds, all representing realistic aspects that man deals with throughout his lifetime. The play opens with God upset that after all he has done for man, to protect him and save his soul, man still continues to turn from him and forsake him.
He sends Death to Everyman, to let him know that his life is at its end and now he must stand before God and be held accountable for the life that he has lived. At this point Everyman realizes that he is not ready to die and that he is not proud of the life he will soon have to account for. He attempts to bribe Death so that he can extend his time here on earth, but to no avail. The message here is that Death is unavoidable, no matter the age, gender or wealth of any man. When God calls his children home there is no way to get out of it, and it doesn’t matter whether their affairs are in order or not, or whether they are ready to go or not, death is final. “Everyman's inability to recognize the permanence of Death's “journey” raises the question for the audience of what might constitute such a recognition. Depicting death as a presence initially inscrutable to its central character,” (Paulson, 2007)
The one thing that Death does acquiescent is when Everyman asks to bring a companion with him during his journey, Death allows him to ask his life acquaintances if there was anyone who would be willing to accompany him. “When Everyman is summoned by Death, he can persuade none of his friends—Beauty, Kindred, Worldly Goods—to go with him, except Good Deeds.” (Everyman, Columbia 2013)
Beginning with Fellowship, Everyman finds out fast that when it comes to Death all his Earthly friends will abandon him, Fellowship will not go, then Kindred and Cousin in turn refuse. Eventually Everyman turns to Goods who flat out tells him that he follows no one to the grave. At this point the allegoric context is vivid for the reader as it is true that nothing that man has amassed here on Earth can follow him to the grave, no treasure or riches can make the journey with him. An allegory being, “A narrative expressing abstract ideas as concrete symbols; a description of a topic or subject under the guise of another which is suggestive of it, an extended comparative metaphor.” (Allegory, 2013)
Next Everyman turns to Good Deeds to accompany him, but Good Deeds is weakened and tells Everyman that due to his sins and lack of good deeds...