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Everyman Essay

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The play Everyman is a perfect representation of public literature from the Renaissance period. The anonymous author reveals through the morality play that 'everyman' should be prepared for judgment at any time because, "Suddenly, [Death] come[s]." (Scene 1, Line 81) This, as with all allegorical works of that period, was constructed under the direction of the Roman Catholic Church to strike fear in to the hearts of men and, in doing so, have power over them. The church succeeded by censoring all works and designing them to fit their purpose.

The structure of literary works of the Renaissance period was designed for easy comprehension for the masses. The average person of the Renaissance did not know how to read and had not had any proper education. For easy interpretation, characters in plays and oral stories were named allegorically after what they symbolized. For example, in Everyman, the main character's name is 'Everyman', so that every peasant watching could understand that the main character represented every single man, woman and child on Earth- specifically their own person. Death is also aptly named, as well as Everyman's friend 'Fellowship', his family 'Kin' and 'Cousin', as well as 'Worldly Goods' and 'Good Deeds'. This same technique is used in Pilgrim's Progress to make it unmistakable that the story is aimed at the reader as a moral judgment and not as an interpretive work. This guarantees that every listener will not miss the moral lesson that is intended for them to understand.

Everyman is specifically designed to cause every listener to feel guilt as well as fear. The fact that 'Everyman' discovers that his devotion to 'Worldly Goods' only injures his accounts leads him to state, "I know I am worthy of blam...


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... pave his road to hell, and were in no position to help him or even wanted to. He had no one to accompany him, no true element to brave with him the judgment. His acquaintance 'Good Deeds' had been weakened by his mistreatment, but even as she could barely stand, she offered to be with him and speak for him. These allegorical references solidified in the audiences' imagination that they must take the steps to ensure their salvation, to go to heaven instead of hell. The story emphasizes that the only way to do this is to give away your worldly goods and do good deeds, as they are the only thing you can carry with you to the judgment. In this way, the anonymous author sets up his final thought: Everyman is equal and therefore sinful and must repent; he must give of himself without thought of himself. What better way than to give everything of yourself to the church?



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