Return to Medieval
Discover more by following these links.
History Of Morality
the Allegory and Nature of Virtues
Some other useful links
The Text of Everyman
See the play in Rome
The Morality Play is alive at well.
The Miracle Players continue the tradition.
The genre of "Everyman" is that of the morality play. The plot is allegorical.
Its message is considered to be didactic in that it desires a moral conversion
of the audience.
In the fourteenth century, a new genre of drama called the Morality
Play was born. The morality play's ease of adapting to the ever changing
conditions of the time allowed them to continue well into the renaissance. "The
Castle Perseverance" (ca. 1405-25) is an example of an early morality play.
It is marked with elaborate staging and the use of very dramatic visuals. In the
play "Everyman" (ca.1495) we can observe the changes that were
incorporated in order to accommodate theme and social context. There is a debate
if "Everyman" was a translation of an earlier Flemish/Dutch play.
The story is not hard to follow because the opening scene sets up the plot.
Death tells everyman that he must journey to face God in his final judgment.
On his pilgrimage, Everyman asks allegorical representations of virtues to
accompany him. Everyman is surprised by his friends who fail him and soon finds
out what is required for the redemption of his soul.
If in medieval times, there was a
presumption that every man had faith, then what was thought to be the key to
Everyman is not as dependent on props like some of the other morality plays.
Instead the presentation of the powerful image of Death, the dramatic pace of
the speeches, and the very strong visuals add to the delight of the audience.
These dramas could be seen on stages or in churches but drama became unfavorable
to the churches so the plays were moved outside. What resulted was the use of
pageant wagons. These portable stages could contain all the costumes and
elements necessary in the production and very easily be moved from town to town.