Analysis of Death in “Everyman”
1. Give brief overview of Death
a. Discuss when he appears and for what reason
b. Discuss his objectives and what his reason for being there is c. Discuss who he is talking to
d. Give thesis statement
2. Quote the excerpt of Death’s conversation with God
3. Quote the excerpt of Trussler and his summary of the conversation 4. Discuss the atypical depiction of Death
e. Follow up with Ron Tanner’s quotation about the humor in the scene 5. Quote Davenport
6. Discuss the influence Christianity and the Catholic Church had on drama during the 15th century g. Quote Moses’ and his synopsis of the matter
7. Follow up with quote from Cunningham and Reich to reinforce the mentality of that time period 8. Conclusion, restate thesis
Deaths primary role throughout the course of this play is to serve as God’s messenger and to summon Everyman to account for his sins.
Analysis of Death in “Everyman”
The morality play Everyman is probably one of the most known drama’s of the Middle Ages even though the author of the play is unknown. The basic summary of the play entails the Lord God looking down upon Everyman and observing the greed that has overcame him. The character Everyman, in this play, is symbolic of mankind as a whole; male, female, young, and old. God sees Everyman’s desire for riches and worldly pleasures and observes the fact that Everyman has forgotten Him. This prompts God to call for His messenger, Death. God proceeds to bid Death to take a message to Everyman informing him that he must take a long journey; he must prepare to account for his actions before the Lord God. This direct instruction to Death by God gives the reader insight on the author’s perception of Death and the role that Death will play in this drama. Death doesn’t play a prominent role throughout the course of the play, but the play seems to be centered on the conversation between Death and Everyman. Deaths primary role throughout the course of this play is to serve as God’s messenger and to summon Everyman to account for his sins.
An excerpt from the play further illustrates the brief but significant role of Death as the messenger of God.
God. … Where art thou, Death, thou mighty messenger?
Death. Almighty God, I am here at your will, Your commandment to fulfil. God. Go thou to Everyman, And show him in my name. A pilgrimage he must on him take, Which he in no wise may escape; And that he bring with him a sure reckoning Without delay or any tarrying. Death. Lord, I will in the world go run over all, And cruelly outsearch both great and small; Every man will I beset that liveth beastly Out of God’s laws, and dreadeth not folly; He that loveth riches I will strike with my dart, His sight to blind, and from heaven to depart, Except that alms be his good friend, In hell for to dwell, world without end… [ (Unknown 1400) ] In his short book entitled “Everyman”, Simon Trussler further describes the role of Death as God’s messenger. God, looking out from Heaven over his creation, bemoans men’s love of worldly riches and their unrighteous behavior. Summoning his messenger Death, God instructs him to seek out Everyman, who must make ready for a pilgrimage, bearing his book of reckoning with him. Everyman, thinking of ‘fleshly lusts and his treasure’, has Death ‘least in mind’, and his accounts are all unclear. He begs and even tries to bribe Death for more time to make himself ready, but Death agrees only to let him try to find someone who will accompany him on the journey. (Trussler 1996) The combined writings of the author of Everyman and Simon Trussler’s summary of Everyman further illustrate the intentions and purpose of the character Death by the author. Clearly, the purpose of Death is to serve as God’s primary messenger to the character Everyman....
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