Perception of Death in Everyman

Perception of Death in Everyman

Introduction

Everyman is a drama play, centered on the aspects of morality. In the play, every character is significant for the plot’s development, in order to disclose the theme of morality. However, death takes the center stage in the play’s theme. Everyman is the title of the book and, at the same time, it refers to the name of the main character. Everyman appears instructive to every other character from the play. In the book, the author, (Cawley, 1960), represents death as a God’s messenger, cruel judge, and rescuer of humankind. It is evident that humankind must answer for the mistakes committed by Adam, and the evil actions always tend to heighten the sins of Everyman. Further, the reading highlights that although Death has one major role, he performs many other roles and objectives. The author of Everyman is anonymous, while the main character, Everyman represents mankind in general. The character leads his life receiving pleasure, which disappoints God, as people need to be transient. Following the disappointment, God sends Death over the globe to take note of small and big happenings. Out of the collection of events by Death, God is not pleased with Everyman’s character of living without fear. The paper seeks to explore the author’s perception of death and treatment of death in Everyman.

Author’s Perception of Death and the Treatment of Death

The aspect of death is well discussed by the author in Everyman. Through the main character, Everyman, we are able to understand the author’s perception and treatment of death. Another significant character is Death, whom God uses to torture Everyman for living, as opposed to the required ways. Everyman play seeks to explain what a man must and must not do before his death time. The presence of Death in the life of Everyman helps change his attitude towards his life and actions. On the other side, the author uses Death character to represent a persistent opponent of Everyman, who tries to negotiate for the punishment. The main part of the play is when Death agrees to give Everyman another chance to redeem himself and his life. This means that Everyman gets only one more day to live instead of twelve years. The shortened life of Everyman makes the play monotonous and unappealing.

Analyzing the play, it is apparent that the author perceives death as a messenger and servant of God. Death is a messenger sent by God to hold Everyman accountable for his life on earth. In the book, death is a messenger doing its appointed duties, as it is determined by God. The book portrays death in a different way, as compared to other literatures. Death, as a character, plays a key role of communicating and implementing God’s needs and wants. It is God who sends Death to the world to antagonize the life and ways of Everyman. In essence, the character of Death is undeniable, as he represents the person everyone in the world can and should expect. Through the image of Death, the author implies a description of physical and allegory of moral death. The activities, undertaken by Death, were actually instructions from God. The duties imply Death is a servant of God. The chain of relationships in the play, Everyman, has the main objective of altering the reader’s mind. In addition, Death helps to persuade Everyman about God’s power and death’s inevitability in real life. According to the author, death is strong, especially in instances with common people, but, most significantly, he is a representation of God’s work.

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Everyman is a morality play. A morality play is an allegorical drama where the drama’s characters personified moral abilities and generalizations (Kaula, 1960). The author openly emphasizes on the significant questions of life, friendship, adoration, death and reckoning. Everyman has to reap the consequences for all his actions under the face of Death. Death is sent to earth, by the call of God, to judge the main character. The author uses Death to help the main character, Everyman, revisit his life. Death acts as a major reminder to Everyman that he will pay for all good and bad doings that he has committed in the course of his life. Death, steadfastly, continues to refresh Everyman’s memory of the real system of values. In this case, the author perceives Death as instrumental to bringing people to judgment. “Everyman: What desireth God of me? Death: That shall I show thee; A reckoning he will needs have without any longer respite” (Cooper & Wortham, 1980). When it comes to the judgment sessions, people need to look into their ways of life, accepting the wrong doings and taking responsibility of their action’s consequences. Most people, as comprehended from the book, fail to acknowledge the need to lead a good life until their time to depart the world comes. When Everyman realizes that he will no longer live, he becomes apologetic for the wrong way of life he led during his lifetime. However, the play does not explore individual’s emotional response to death.

The author also perceives death as a wakeup call to Everyman, especially in regards to those around him. In his times of trials, Everyman tries to talk to his friends to accompany him on the long journey. During his lifetime, these friends were everything to him and he sacrificed his relationship with God for them. However, Death helps readers to understand that in time of need, even the closest friends’ may dessert you. The author takes note of Fellowship’s response to Everyman when asked to accompany on the journey. “Whether ye have loved me or no, by Saint John, I will not with thee go” (Ryan, 1957). The same reaction applies to relatives, as Everyman’s closest cousin is also not willing to support him in times of need (Adolf, 1957). Death plays the role of awakening Everyman that the friendships created by Cousin, Good, Fellowship and Kindred were not valid, especially in times of need. The underlying lesson from Death in this context is for Everyman to make wise choices when it comes to friends and people he is related to. The author highlights the need of accepting correction instead of punishment when on the wrong.

The reading offers the idea that there is nothing people can take with them from the real world during their end times. The author seeks ways through which Everyman can change his life, deeds and knowledge. Everyman indicates that it is significant to engage in good deeds, obtain knowledgeable information and the need for self-evaluation. The author emphasizes through various characters that knowledge and learning are keys to leading an acceptable life on earth. From another perspective, Death also provides a clear picture of alienation and loneliness when it comes to life on earth. “Everyman: O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind; In thy power it lieth me to save, Yet of my good will I give thee, if ye will be kind” (Cawley, 1960). During God’s judgment, every person will account for his/her actions, which is a lonely affair. In most cases, while on earth, people engage in different activities collectively or as a group, in order to maintain their identity and belonging. The unavoidability of Death awakens Everyman’s conscience. The self-evaluation process which Death undergoes leads to the birth of new individual, devoted to doing the right and good deeds. Everyman’s progress of self-development and comprehension is a response to Death’s initial summons.

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The general treatment and perception of death is that it is the taker of human life. Death has some sort of finality, when it comes to earthly belongings and life. Being that death gives certain aspects of finality, everyone is scared of its coming. It was explained in the book that death can be unforgiving and cruel. Death is an aspect of life which is not selective. It sweeps people of all calibers, genders, age, social status and even the closest people, such as family members and friends. The sole purpose of death is to bring pain to humankind. “Everyman: O Death, thou comest when I had thee least in mind, In thy power it lieth me to save, Yet of mu good will I give thee, if ye will be kind” (Gilman, 1989). People should treat death as a message to live according to God’s will. No one knows the time death will strike, hence we all have to lead a credible and honest life, full of good deeds. Death plays various roles in the play and in all aspects, it is both powerful and mighty. The combination of the two traits of death creates the key essence of death in the author’s perception.

Conclusion

The author perceives death as an inevitable and fair messenger from God. Ultimately, death is the taker of human life. According to the anonymous author, it is important that we treat death the way it deserves, as an action which puts finality to life.

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