The Role of Irony in "Everyman"

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The Role of Irony in "Everyman"

The desire for wealth and prosperity is what drives many in this world, but is that truly the best motivation? In the play Everyman, irony is used to promote the idea that materialistic things are pointless and the only truly valuable thing is the goodness of a person's deeds. When the time comes to leave this life, nothing but good deeds will follow over into the afterlife. Wealth and friends will not be able to help a person once they die. Help will come only from their good deeds when standing before Saint Peter. When all the material things in this world are gone, the only thing left are good deeds.

Throughout the course of the play, Everyman discovers that he is forsaken by everything that he once held dear in his life. When his time to die finally comes, he finds himself utterly alone and friendless. Despite his wealth and so called friends, Everyman is unable to stave off his death or even find a helping hand. Though family and friends alike both pledge their undying loyalty and love to Everyman, they abandon him in his greatest hour of need when he asks for their help. His wealth even confesses to leading many men to hell by telling him, "My condition is man's soul to kill; If I save one, a thousand I do spill;" (441-445). Everyman is alone until he finds Good-deeds laying "cold on the ground" (485). Good-deeds, the one thing he had overlooked and ignored in his life, was the only one wiling to help him. The only one willing to actually follow Everyman on his journey to the afterlife. Everyman had put his trust in the deceitful, loved the wicked, and befriended the unfaithful. They were all to willing to lend a helping hand as long as they benefited from it, but as soon as they saw any danger to themselves, they fled from Everyman's side. Even weak as she was, Good-deeds was the only one willing to accompany Everyman on his final voyage. It is then that Everyman realizes the truth; that everything he once thought was...
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