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Everyman Essay Research Paper

Everyman Essay, Research Paper

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. 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

with 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

deceived 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


Now Everyman realizes that Kindred, Cousin, and Goods and Riches have all

forsaken 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

cure 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.

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