Christian-Themed Play “Everyman”
Written in the mid English at the Tudor period, “Everyman”, is a late Christian English morality play. The play emphasizes on catholic sacraments particularly penance, confession, receiving the holy Eucharist, viaticum and unction (Cawley 7). It applies figurative characters in examining the subject of deliverance of Christians and what an individual should do to achieve it. The hypothesis of the play is that both human wickedness and morality will be summed by God after death as applies in a ledger book. According to Cawley (9), every person is accountable for his actions during his or her lifetime. In the play, Everyman persuades others to help him improve his rapport. However, the other characters are allegorical, whereby each personify a rough idea like goods, fellowship and knowledge. The disagreement amid wickedness and morality is played by interacting between the characters. The reason behind focus on Everyman is because it is hard for him to find characters to come with him to his pilgrimage. Ultimately, Everyman recognizes through his pilgrimage that he is on his own regardless of all other incarnate characters that were acquaintances to him. He realizes that as an individual dies and placed before God’s judgment, he or she is left with his own morals (Cawley 13).
The Castle of Perseverance
This is the original known dialect play in life. The text traces the whole life of mankind as he wages the fluctuating battle with the forces of darkness (Southern 9). At the beginning of the play, mankind rejects the advice of his Good Archangel and permits his Bad Archangel to direct him in the worldly service. According to the play, the earthly servants (Folly and Lust) dress the hero in costly attire and direct him to the gallows of greediness, whereby mankind admits the 7 fatal sins. Penance and shrift convince mankind and is placed in a castle of perseverance where he will seek protection from transgression by seven ethical virtues. The enemies of mankind, who include the flesh, the world and the devil attack of the castle but are revolted by the merits armed with emblems of Christ’s passion (Southern 22). Mankind is tempted with coveting through a bid of affluence and he thinks of accepting it. He is hit down by a flit frightened by death demonstrating that bereavement may happen any time. After death, he prays to God to deliver him from Hell. The 4 God’s daughters drawn from the medieval convention discuss the destiny of the mankind and God sides with harmony and mercy and choose to pardon mankind. This text shows the evolution of human from beginning to the end and illustrates temptations and the process necessitating Christian salvation.
The comparison between Everyman and the Castle of Perseverance offers a profitable opportunity to explore depiction of spirituality and religion. The two plays have much in common in their representation of spirituality and religion. Religion and spirituality can be considered a collective thing. Both texts assess person’s spiritual state at the end of the earthly life. According to the two plays, mankind dies and learns of his unpreparedness for the verdict he ought to face on his pilgrimage for the subsequent life. Also, both plays are similar to the extend at which the economic discourse shapes how they depict assessment of a personal spiritual state. Each play uses numerous strategies to suggest the dissimilarity amid spiritual and religious definition of affluence and poverty and concurrently exemplifies the intricacy that individuals have while differentiating between spiritual and religion. Though both texts depict the potential for material prosperity to blind lay Christians to spiritual values, they reserve their strongest condemnations for priests who use spiritual authority to make profits. Concerns about the relationship between faith and earthly riches did not start in the 15th century. In the 12th century, Christian writers depicted riches to be a great danger to spiritual health of persons and to spiritual health of Christian church as an institution. Various churches use their wealth for wrong motives like decoration of their buildings rather than feeding and clothing the poor.
Presentation of spirituality, religion and poverty in the two texts reflect theological ambiguities and social tensions. Even though pilgrimage of the soul does not characterize material control and riches as wicked in nature, it portrays ravenousness as a sin eliminates in purgatory and penalized in Hell. Pilgrim soul views damned souls punished for avarice in Hell and guardian angel describes them as those who have set their hearts ambitiously to assemble and heap quantities of treasure both gold and silver and keep it without any cause. The shared themes and imagery in the two texts shows how texts and theologies about prosperity shape vernacular in the late Middle Ages. They use world plays to highlight tension between spiritual readings and physical signs and each of them engages the audience in personal interrogation of values shaping their view of prosperity and poverty.
Cawley, Arthur C., ed. Everyman: And Medieval Miracle Plays. Vol. 381. Dent, 1960.
Southern, Richard. The medieval theatre in the round: a study of the staging of the castle of perseverance and related matters. Faber & Faber, 1975.