Mankind: Medieval Morality Plays

Argument in the Medieval Morality Plays

Compare and contrast the use made of argument and dramatic

irony in some morality plays.

By allegorising the redemption of mankind and the principles of Christian aretaics, morality plays, in the words of Robert Potter, "celebrate the permanent truth of Christianity as a theology, a theory of history, and an explanation of the human condition." Dramatic irony, as an identifiable contrast between the knowledge possessed by characters in a play and the audience observing it, is a fairly constant factor in most morality dramas. This is because the morality plays emphasised religious truths that were already expressed in scripture, contemporary sermons, and the Christian liturgy, and consequently the audience would have had strong preconceptions of what the characters on stage should and should not know. Furthermore, the allegorised names of the characters, such as 'Wisdom,' 'Mischief,' and 'Mercy' allow the audience an insight into the moral and symbolic structures of the play, to which the 'everyman' figure is, at least initially, oblivious. An integral part of the 'celebration' that Potter describes is the juxtaposition of the Christian soteriological message and 'the world,...

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