The Summoning of Everyman is a medieval morality play that is more often referred to as Everyman. When called by Death, Everyman cannot persuade anyone, Beauty, Kindred, or Worldly Goods, to go with him. Only Good Deeds agree to accompany Everyman to his grave. The present paper discusses the ideas of religion, hypocrisy, and material wealth presented in the play.
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Everyman reflects the ideals of the Catholic Church since only under one’s Good Deeds a person can go to Heaven. While Fellowship, Cousin, and Kindred reject the protagonist of the play, they are depicted in a favorable light since they represent valuable relationships in the life of a Christian. At the same time, even though Discretion, Beauty, Five-Wits, and Knowledge failed to follow Everyman to his grave despite promising to do so, they cannot be called negative characters of the play. The only antagonist is Worldly Goods, who is represented as the opposite of Good Deeds. According to Adolf, this is the representation of the Catholic view of religion (208). In short, Everyman presents medieval ideas about religion that the Kingdom of Heaven may be entered only with Good Deeds.
The play hints at the idea that all people live in hypocrisy like Everyman and all his companions. The protagonist of the play lives in sin without caring for the Almighty; however, as soon as Death appears, he starts to care out of fear. However, hypocrisy returns to him through the deeds of his friends that left him wondering why “they that I loved best do forsake me” (“Medieval Sourcebook”). Therefore, hypocrisy is one of the central motifs of the play.
As mentioned above, the only character depicted in a negative light is Worldly Goods, who represents material wealth. Instead of serving God, Everyman serves the material goods to make his life comfortable. After the encounter with Death, Everyman believes that his wealth can help him bribe death (Paulson 129). However, Goods forsake Everyman since the love of goods is the opposite of the love of God.
Everyman is a simplistic allegory about the life of every man who wishes to have all the riches of the world and forgets that death comes eventually. The motifs of religion, hypocrisy and the faultiness of material wealth are central in the play. The ideas about these matters are influenced by medieval Catholic ideology.
Adolf, Helen. “From Everyman and Elckerlijc to Hofmannsthal and Kafka.” Comparative Literature, vol. 9, no. 3, 1957, p. 204-214. JSTOR, Web.
“Medieval Sourcebook: Everyman, 15th Century.” Sourcebooks, Web.
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Paulson, Julie. “Death’s Arrival and Everyman’s Separation.” Theatre Survey, vol. 48, no. 1, 2007, pp. 121-141. Web.