Introduction of Everyman

The play Everyman was written near the end of the fifteenth century. It is thought to be a translated version of a Flemish play, Elckerlijk (or Elckerlyc) that was first printed in 1495. But the question whether Everyman was translated one or the Flemish play Elckerlijk was a translated version has not yet been solved.

There are total four surviving versions of Everyman, two of them are fragmentary.

Everyman is a representative one act play of medieval drama. It is considered one of the most accessible of the medieval morality play. The basic characteristic of morality play is that they rely on allegory. The allegory allows the representation of an abstract idea in physical qualities. The very purpose of such morality play is to reform the human being. It focuses on the teaching to the Christians on how to live a virtuous life so as to save the soul. To come to the main point, morality play is the acted version of the sermon a priest gives in church during the service.  The characters are all abstract virtues and vices which are personified in the play such as Hope, Good Deeds, Money, Anger, Love, Death, and Beauty and so on. Sometimes, Gods and Angels can also appear as a character in the morality play.

Everyman is a short play consisting of about 900 lines with a journey like structure. It is about a man called Everyman who has been living a happy life without considering about the death and life after it. When suddenly one day he is called upon by the messenger of god to travel with him up to the grave, he is surprised. He seeks for companions go with him in his journey to death, but he is deserted by his false friends, kin, and wealth too. He then depends on his Good Deeds, his Strength, his Beauty, his Intelligence, and his Knowledge. These qualities in the form of the characters accompany him but leaves him one by one as they all have some limitations. The only thing that travels with him till death or grave is his Good Deeds. The play ends with the bitter truth that whatever we earn in the earth, we cannot take them with us after death. What is counted after death is all what we do for others while living. Receiving and collecting does not bring salvation, but the giving with a generous heart brings salvation to us.

Everyman Study Center

Summary of Everyman

Allegorical Elements in Everyman

The World of Medieval Drama in Everyman

Themes of Everyman