The play Everyman was written and distributed in the year 1508. It touches on the last moments of everyman, while living on earth. It shows in detail the futile efforts that every person makes in order to secure his life from death. The play starts by a messenger preparing the way for God. The messenger commands death to go to everyman on earth and admonish them regarding God’s impending judgment. Death obliges to the command and is seen in the world warning every man of the pilgrimage they all must take to meet their maker. Everyman exhibits the same reaction, each desiring to be given more time on earth to consider many things. Unfortunately, death is adamant. Everyman tries to persuade death, to delay the journey of the soul but death insists that no more time may be added and that it is inevitable for all people at their own respective times.
Everyman is depicted in the play as being in deep thought due to the response of death to the urgency of the journey seeking companionship, to help ease the burden on the heart. The first friend he seeks is Fellowship. Initially fellowship is concerned about everyman, even willing to help but upon discovery of the journey that he is taking, he abandons everybody to his own fate. Everyman seeks cousin and kindred on the premise that blood is thicker than water; thus, they obviously cannot abandon him but to his dismay, they, like fellowship, abandon him. Finally everyman seeks help from Goods. These represent all the material possessions he has toiled all his life to amass. Goods discover that death has summoned everyman on the journey of his soul, thus abandoning him to face it alone. The play is a depiction of the reality that each man must face in their transition from this world to the next. It is a stark reminder that nothing that people possess on this earth will accompany them in the journey to the next life. Death is inevitable; therefore, everyman ought to be ready for it.
The author perceives death to be a punishment from God to all men for the attachment to worldly things and lust. It is the platform that God has set for each man to account for all his sins before him. This is seen from the beginning of the play where a messenger prepares the way for God whose task is to judge the world on a future date. This messenger warns the world to care about the way of life they lead, and that everything they possess or deal with on earth will remain behind once they die. The messenger warns man of the impending judgment and convicts him with regard to sin. The play narrates through the messenger how sin may have an appealing face value but, consequently, it results in death. Here God enters and expresses his anger towards everyman. In his view, which is just, everyman has abandoned him and gone his own way; they have forgotten the message or purpose of the cross and continue to indulge in sin. For this reason, God decides that he will judge the earth based on everyman’s deeds and only those that are found good will enter heaven. At this juncture, death is summoned to enter the world and inform all mankind that they will all have to make a pilgrimage to their judgment. Death is given powers to exercise and promise to be harsh and brutal to all those who rebel against God’s law.
The author portrays that death comes without warning mentioning that he encounters everyman as he deals with his business on earth. Death inquires of him, whether he still has reverence for his maker. According to the author, death serves to sensitize people of the need to live a holy and spiritual life since everyman has a maker that will hold them accountable for their life on earth. Death should be feared bringing positive results. In the play, death makes note of the material things and lust that drive man and is concerned whether all he remembers is that God exists. Death informs man that his mission on earth is to inform everyman that he will have to make a journey at the end of his days. During this journey man will carry his full books of accounts to paradise, where God will judge him based on his deeds. He further warns man to be careful for his deeds thus have been evil. The author implies that good deeds are what will justify everyman before God.
The perception of the author is inclined towards the fact that everyman on earth is never prepared to die. The author further points out that death is inevitable and that it is a journey that one takes alone. According to the play, Everyman responds in protest to death. No one is willing to embark on the journey of death, but it insists and its will prevails. He urges that the man he calls has no other option but to respond. Man sensing defeat asks death if he must embark on this journey alone. Death promises man that he can take any person that would be willing to embark on the journey with him. Death reminds man that he lives on earth but for a certain period, his life is like a loan given to him. Death departs the scene, giving man ample time to take his companions who would be willing to take the journey with him.
Everyman is left in a state of utter anguish and desperation. He I saddened over the trip he has to take. He runs into his friend Fellowship. The two have shared a lot of memorable moments together and have been friends for a while. Everyman feels immediate comfort at seeing Fellowship. The latter inquires the reason causing his sadness as it was evident on his face. Before Everyman could speak, Fellowship makes all sorts of promises to Death, promising to go to hell with him and for him. Everyman feels consoled and tells Fellowship what is troubling him. Once Fellowship is aware that Everyman is supposed to die, Fellowship quickly changes his earlier stand supporting him through anything. Here the author seeks to remind the readers that there are many things in this world that man gets so attached to, yet are just temporary. All the fun one has on earth will neither be remembered if their deeds were bad or go with them to eternity.
The author emphasizes the fact that there is no companionship in death, by mentioning the friends that Everyman sought to help him during the journey. The author illustrates that close family cannot help in the journey of death. Everyman approaches cousin and Kindred, with the same plight he approached Fellowship, but the reaction is the same. Everyman approaches goods that he owns and has toiled lifelong, but they do not want to die with him either. It is clear that the writer is pointing out the fact that death is a journey everyman embarks in solitude. Moreover, all that exists on the earth breaks its attachment to man upon death; everything that is of the earth is left behind.
After death everyman’s deeds will be judged. Therefore, man ought to invest more in storing good deeds in their account. This is seen in the excerpt where all have deserted everyman, and he reaches good deeds. Good deeds are willing to go on the journey with Everyman but he is too weak to walk. Knowledge, the sister of Good deeds, stays with Everyman until Good deeds recovers. Knowledge leads everyman to Confession, who offers everyman forgiveness. Everyman is then escorted to Salvation who saves him from his sin. At this point, Good deeds recovers and declares himself strong enough for the journey. The author illustrates that to be equipped at death one must have knowledge during their life. Knowledge will instruct everyman on the best course of action that will help increase their good deeds. Knowledge is an important asset of life since it acquaints a person with the right allies who will accompany them during the journey of death. This may be noticed when Knowledge takes Everyman to the priest who blesses him and is the one who urges with him to encourage Strength, Beauty, Five wits since these are the important tools that will prepare him to face death.
The scene where the angel declares that Everyman is justified based on his singular act of goodness helps the author to illustrate that even a single act of goodness towards the end of a person’s life may save him from eternal damnation. The good are rewarded after death while the evil are punished after suffering the same fate. The most important thing, according to the author, is to feed the soul with the right material by doing good deeds, since it is the only thing that will remain after death. The doctor is the last character in the play, and he warns about the importance of indulging in good habits and practices in order to find favor of God. He urges that the most important thing is leading morally upright and pleasing life before God.
There are several characters in the play, each being used to depict a fundamental truth with regard to the human life on the earth and the possible consequences. These characters include: Doctor, God, Everyman, Goods, Confession, Discretion, Death, Good deeds, Beauty, Angel, Knowledge, Fellowship, Five wits, Strength, Kindred, and Cousin. Everyman is the main character and represents the human race as well as the experiences it faces in readiness for the Day of Judgment. Everyman deals with different aspects of his life that are set as themes for humans. First he encounters death, which gives him the message that his life will end one day. Here he learns that death is inevitable and will come to each man individually since there is no allowance to take a companion. Death cannot be bribed to postpone its due date neither by material possessions nor the weeping heart of the individual. Death is everyman’s final journey. Everyman confesses his sin and sees the folly in loving goods since it only distracts a person from God. Once he has received forgiveness for his sins, he is now furnished for good deeds. Without knowledge of life people perish. Being ignorant of the things of God may cause someone to go to hell. Everyman requires strength for the journey, their five wits, discretion and beauty, but all these features will remain on earth, only good works will be judged.