Everyman: Morality Play Summary
A prologue, read by the Messenger asks the audience to give their attention and announces the purpose of the play, which will show us our lives as well as our deaths (“our ending”) and how we humans are always (“all day”) transitory: changing from one state into another. God speaks next, and immediately launches into a criticism of the way that “all creatures” are not serving Him properly. People are living without “dread” (fear) in the world without any thought of heaven or hell, or the judgment that will eventually come to them. “In worldly riches is all their mind”, God says. Everyone is living purely for their own pleasure, but yet they are not at all secure in their lives. God sees everything decaying, and getting worse “fro year to year” (from year to year) and so has decided to have a “reckoning of every man’s person”. Are they guilty or are they godly – should they be going to heaven or hell? God calls in Death, his “mighty messenger”. People who love wealth and worldly goods will be struck by Death’s dart and will be sent to dwell in hell eternally – unless, that is, “Alms be his good friend”. “Alms” means “good deeds”, and it is an important clue even at this stage that good deeds can save a sinner from eternal damnation. God exits, and Death sees Everyman walking along, “finely dressed”. Death approaches Everyman, and asks him where he is going, and whether he has forgotten his “maker” (the one who made him). He then tells Everyman that he must take a long journey upon him, and bring with him his “book of count” (his account book as per God’s “reckoning”, above) which contains his good and bad deeds. Everyman says that he is unready to make such a reckoning, and is horrified to realize who Death is. Everyman asks Death whether he will have any company to go on the journey from life into death. Death tells him he could have company, if anyone was brave enough to go along with him. Fellowship enters,...
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