Morality plays: themes and characters
The morality play developed during the Medieval period. The morality plays attempted to educate via entertainment. The main theme of the morality play is this: Man begins in innocence, Man falls into temptation, Man repents and is saved. The central action is the struggle of Man against the seven deadly sins that are personified into real characters. It is believed that the allegory of vices and virtues fighting over Man’s soul goes back to the 4th century Roman epic, Psychomachia. It was probably the first and most influential medieval allegory. Morality plays were not holiday-specific; they could be performed at any time of the year, as repentance occurs at any time of the year. Morality plays typically contain a protagonist who represents either humanity as a whole or a smaller social structure. Supporting characters are personifications of good and evil. This alignment of characters provides the play’s audience with moral guidance. In Everyman, the archetypal morality play, the characters take on the common pattern, representing broader ideas. The characters in Everyman are Everyman, Messenger, God, Death, Fellowship, Kindred, Cousin, Goods, Good Deeds, Knowledge, Confession, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, Five Wits, Angel and Doctor. The play opens with a prologue, which takes the form of a messenger announcing the play’s purpose. Then God laments about humans having become too absorbed in material wealth to follow Him. So He commands Death, His messenger, to go to Everyman and summon him to heaven to make his reckoning. Death informs Everyman it is time for him to die and face judgment. Death will allow him to find a companion for his journey. Fellowship, representing Everyman's friends, Kindred and Cousin, who represent family, and material Goods all refuse to accompany him. Everyman then turns to Good Deeds, who says she would go with him, but she is too weak as Everyman has not loved her in his life. Good Deeds...
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