Everyman: Morality Play

How Representative is Everyman as a Medieval Morality Play? College

The fifteenth century Morality play, Everyman (first printed in 1508), written by an anonymous writer, presumably a priest, is of English and Dutch origins. It is considered ‘the morality play best known and most widely performed in modern times’ (Williams, 1961). It has the resonance of the Dutch Morality Play Elckerlijk (1495) written by Peter van Diest which tackles the same moral theme. In addition, Everyman can also be understood as a Morality that crosses boundaries of Catholicism and embodies thematic concerns of Buddhist parables such as the ‘testing-of-friends’ (Kolve, 1972). The three genres of drama that give the Medieval Theatre its uniqueness are Mystery Plays, Miracle Plays and Morality Plays. Everyman is perceived as a representative Medieval Morality Play that demonstrates the singular characteristics of Medieval Theatre. This essay explores how representative is Everyman as a fine piece of Medieval Theatre that manifests Medieval theatrical attributes embodied by Morality Plays.

One of the salient features of Medieval Theatre is its profoundly religious nature. Medieval dramas were confined to the propagation of religious doctrines except Cycle Plays which wielded more secular themes. Thus, Morality Plays...

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