Everyman is a morality play published in the late fifteenth century. The novel, written by Michael A. Babcock, is set in a western society and is described through allegories involving seven vices and virtues found inside a man’s heart. The play depicts how Christians should behave during their lives in order to escape death’s condemnation of their souls (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt, 2011 p.265-287). Death is prejudiced with the way people live in Everyman by introducing ideas about how they struggle with the choices between the ultimate divine decision and worldly objects. As stated by Babcock Everyman is a play that distinguishes the struggles between evil and good, and between the seven vices and virtues, (167). The play also shows how life is a transition and a journey of a person from the time they are in sin to when they are free which eventually leads them to a holy death. This essay will elaborate more how people lead their lives upon understanding death in the Everymans play.
Everyman in the story tries to convince his friends to be with him on the journey but left him hanging when he needed them. This is confirmed when Fellowship even commented that Whether you love me or not, I will not with thee go (Line 287). Despite fellowship, even the close cousin of Everyman never wanted to go with him by giving many excuses for having pain in her legs (Line 356). Moreover, Julian Paulson (2010) also noted that the motive behind Everyman desire was to have his friends take him to the grave that only accentuates his isolation. It is also discovered that the friendship he had with his cousin, Kindred, Good, and Fellowship had limitations before the presence of death (Par. 2). Eventually, Everyman notices that everyone who said they would go with him eventually broke their promises (Par. 186-187). He then decides to bribe Death but failed. Everyman noticed that Spiritual economy, material economy, and social critique does not fix anything but instead break them (Elizabeth & Britt 2006). Therefore the only way out Everyman had to fix things was by confessing his sins to God.
The characters in Everyman play have specific roles as defined by their names. Every character is named after their represented vices and values that we always embrace when living in this world. To start with, Everyman is the main character in the play. He always did not consider his spiritual life seriously but later on repents in his sins (Babcock, 2010). Death is the depicted as Gods messenger to summon Everyman. The other characters include Fellowship, Discretion, Strength, Five wits, Kindred, Cousin, Material and Good Deeds are examples of people that we value so much who end up abandoning us in time of need the same way they did to Everyman. The other character is Confession; he is the character that Everyman acknowledge his sins because he seeks for forgiveness. Finally, we have Knowledge, the character that tells Everyman what he needs to do to obtain salvation (Babcock, 2010).
The author sees sin as the cause of death. From the beginning of the play, sin is the reason why God is angered. Sin has become a central subject in the play, God says, They only know me when they are drowned in sin (Babcock, 2010 Line 26). Everyman is not only a victim of sin, but we see this in the real world. Humans are occupied with worldly things to the point that they do not care about God. It is all about material things on earth that seems to be occupying peoples minds. In fact, God warns us on embracing too much of earthly things, For what a man gain in real term if he/she lose his soul in searching material things in this whole world? Or what a man gets by exchanging his soul for material benefits (Mark 8:36 KJV). He also tells us what to do in order to have all the things that we put first before Him.
In the play, Everymans sins determine his final judgment. Throughout his life, he has been sinning, and Death comes in when he least expects. O Death, though comets when I had thee least in mind (Babcock, 2010 Line 119). The author perceives death as something that will knock and enter our doors with no invitation. The audience is also informed that Everymans sins are so much that Good Deeds cannot even move, That shall I do verily: Though that on my feet, I may not go (Line 518). The only way for Everyman to get saved from Death is to accept and renounce his sins.
The author also sees Death as a way where God made Everyman undertake a journey to seek forgiveness from God. It is no surprise when Death singles out Everyman who is only focused on earthly lusts and money. Death informs Everyman to prepare for a long journey, On thee must thou must take a long journey: (Babcock, 2010 Line 103). The author also tells us that Death is no respect of material things and one cannot bribe him to avoid his wrath. When Everyman tries to bribe Death, he responds, Everyman has to face death, and God has neither set silver, gold or other precious metal, nor princes, king duke, emperor or pope to prevent death. His custom and dealings are pure (Par 125).
The whole conversation comes in when Everyman tries to offer Death with his riches, but Death does not fall for them. Finally, Death allows Everyman not only an opportunity to prepare for his long journey but also to seek out a friend who is ready to accompany him. The author perceives death as supreme as it does not spare anyone from summoning. Death is also perceived as a prosecutor for he does not discriminate the poor or the rich, everybody has to face him. Death is also egotistical. Death brags of his power when he says that, I am the taker of life, which no one dreaded because I rest in every man. Therefore no man is spared because the commandment of God says that every man should be obedient.
The author treats death as a messenger of God who has to summon Everyman for the final reckoning with God. In the New Catholic Encyclopedia, E.C Dunn points out that, This is a very trying moment for Everyman, for he never lived a righteous life and time is not his side. Death is also treated as a wakeup call to feel the presence of our friends. In Deaths Arrival and Everyman Separation, Paulson, Julie notes, Everymans desperate plea to his friends to accompany him suggests equally that, when we are in the face of death we would be missed urgently by our community members (Babcock, 2010 p.126).
Death is also treated as a frightening experience that a man can ever face. Everyman is frightened to extend that he seeks extra time to prepare himself. It is because we have a sinful nature that Death has knocked on his door. Romans 6:23 teach us that we deserve to be punished because we have a sinful heart. For the reward of sin is nothing but death while eternal life is deemed as the gift of God for us (Romans 6:23). According to Consider by Dr. Lew Weider and Dr. Ben Gutierrez (2011), Because of our sinful state, we have earned Gods holy wrath. Our culpability for our sin is likened to how we expect to receive a paycheck after we complete a job from employer. (89). Death is treated as a passage to eternal life, and the only way to achieve the eternal life is to recognize and atone our sins before Death takes us (Vardy, 2015). When finally Everyman commends his soul into the hands of God; the author is merely telling us although physically we would die but in reality as being Christians we live continuously in the eternal world forever (Vardy, 2015).
Everyman is a play that teaches us that no human being can escape judgment and that every human being should change his ways for when death comes, it will be a time to face reckoning and that every person will be held accountable as individuals. The play also reminds us that only our deeds will follow us into the next life. The author also elaborates to us why God gets angry because of our selfish desires of wanting earthly material. As defined when a man does not seek the kingdom of God, then sin will cause death to them. The play also had different characters that highlighted how people today live their lives. Therefore, it is only through God in heaven is when man will save his soul from being taken by death itself.
Adu-Gyamfi, Y., & Schmidt, M. R. (2011). Literature and Spirituality (pp. 265-287). N.p.: Longman.
Paulson, J. (2010). Death’s Arrival and Everyman’s Separation. In ProQuest. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/docview/211162380?accountid=12085
Elizabeth, H., & Britt, M. (2006). Material Economy, Spiritual Economy, and Social Critique in Everyman. In ProQuest Retrieved December 21, 2017, from ProQuest Central (211714227).
Babcock, M. A. (2011). The story of Western Culture (2nd ed., p. 167). N.p.: HPS Dunn, E. C. (n.d.). Everyman. In New Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved December 21, 2017, from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3407703872&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w
Vardy, P. (2015). A Christian Approach to Eternal Life. Beyond Death, 13-26. doi: 10.1057/9780230375970_2
Weider, D., & Gutierrez, D. (2011). Consider (p. 89). Virginia Beach: Academx Publishing Services. Inc.