Death. This topic is far from the peachy conversation you would have with a loved one after a long day of work. Death scares people and instills a fear that is hard to explain. People enjoy life because they belong to something and are in control with immediate decisions. The inevitable and uncertainty characteristics of death leaves people uneasy and feeling out of control and brings an unknown. For Christians death gives two destinations. Heaven or Hell. Where you go depends on where one has placed their faith and servitude.
As Christians, we know that sin leads to death and by putting your faith in Christ Jesus, the Savior of mankind, you will have a place in His Kingdom. “Everyman” is a morality play that was written in the early 1500’s (Davenport, 1982). This play has a strong religious focus on how important a relationship with God is. The author who is anonymous uses Everyman the main character of the play to represent mankind. Throughout the play we are presented to the friends of Everyman who are personifications created by the author to represent vices and virtues.
One of the main personifications and also God’s messenger is Death. Death is used to open the eyes of mankind, and by doing so allows people to repent and reflect on their sinful lives in preparation for eternal life. This play is an example of the pursuit of happiness displaying the sufferings that come with it and how useless they are when people are faced with Death. Through out the play there are several themes that are displayed, but our main focus of discussion will be the treatment and perception of Death used in “Everyman”. In “Everyman” Death is sent from God as His messenger.
This is perceived by the author. He is sent to shake things up and open the eyes of the people. Death as the messenger of God must follow His commands and directive. There is no “right” time for death to appear in one’s life. Death is something that is unexpected and comes at any moment in life. This is seen in the play when Everyman is approached by Death. Everyman was surprised and one could say uneasy in the appearance of Death, “Oh Death, you’ve come when I least expected you. ” One could imagine if presented with the Grim Reaper you would certainly be surprised and would find a way to avoid the grips of Death.
We see this attempt from Everyman as he tries to bribe Death with anything he wants if he postpones his mission. Here we see a great example of Death being unaffected by worldly possessions and persuasion. Death tells Everyman that he has no respect for earthly possessions or have any regards to humanity, no one will sway Deaths mission as a messenger of God (Gassner, 1969). Clearly Everyman is now filled with concern and fear, he still is unaware that Death is not in the driving seat. Everyman is blind to the fact that God is the one in control.
He is controlling Death and this is His unstoppable will. We all know death is something that will happen. Sooner or later death will strike and take everyone on this earth. In “Everyman” Death is depicted as unavoidable. The author exemplifies this in the play by showing how Death can approach a well dressed, rich, notable man (Everyman) and have no regard to who he is or his status. Death is something that is inevitable for all people and will not see different from anyone, all will be affected (Cunningham, 2002). As mentioned above Everyman was a respectable man with notable wealth and status.
He mentions how he is tied to his riches and goods and that these things have brought upon him a light heart to his comfortable living. He seems to be a good man leading a good life so we ask the question why should such a man face death? As mentioned above no being can avoid death. In the play we see that Everyman is set on a soul searching journey once death has approached him. He reaches out to his friends and no one will join him. Beauty shy’s away from his request in participating in this journey and strength also shuts him down. These are also great allegory examples of how none of these things can follow ou to the grave. Good Deeds is the only friends who joins with him on this journey which then leads him to confession. In the end Everyman dies and goes to God and those who shunned him away will ultimately meet their maker sooner or later. Death is also a way of redemption and Salvation. It not always needs to be a bad thing, but can be the greatest thing for someone to encounter. As we saw in “Everyman” God the mediator of all things sends Death which takes Everyman on his journey and eventually to redemption and eternal life wi The author In “Everyman” designs death to be something good.
He uses death as a tool to show how people can live free without distraction and sin. The author uses death as a purifier of all the needless distractions a man can carry in his life. The author also uses the death of Christ as an example of this “goodness” in death. He mentions how Jesus was nailed to the cross and was in immense pain so that others could receive salvation. Death is used here as a vessel for hope and eternity to show people that good came with Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. Death can come with several connotations. One of them we see in “Everyman” is repentance.
It is easy to forget that death is inevitable. Life is full of distractions and as a rich man it can be overwhelming. Before Everyman was approached by Death he was living a comfortable life. He seemed to be a proud, arrogant man with no needs. We see this when Death asks Everyman if has had forgotten his maker. Everyman quickly responds “Who wants to know? ” also asking Death what God wants with him. After realizing that he will eventually die Everyman becomes anguished and sorrowful. He has a new mindset knowing he cannot escape death, no matter what he does. This process leads him to his repentance.
His eyes are opened when he is faced with his maker. Everyman comes to realize that he was at fault and was wrongfully pursuing the riches of the world over God. He also comes to repentance when all his friends he had shunned him away and turned their backs when he needed them the most. The only person who joined him on his journey was Good Deeds. Those that turned from him, he called traitors and sinners blaming them of their loyalty when it is him who he realizes is the only one to blame. He is the one to blame for the lack of good deeds he has done in his life.
Of the friends he had turn away Good Deeds is the only one who joins him on his journey and Everyman realizes that Good Deeds is his last hope to join God in Heaven. Death has brought to light all these things in Everymans life. Death has helped Everyman realize his actions on earth and the importance of being a better man towards others. This occurrence has humbled Everyman on how he should’ve spread the wealth he had, to those around him and be a blessing to them. Deaths main purpose is ending a life. When death strikes that person is no longer.
You cannot bring with you your possessions or any worldly item. Death takes you away from this world and sends you to the next life where ever that may be. All that you are as a person, your talents, abilities, and everything associated with you will come to an end as you transition into the other life. Everyman comes to this harsh conclusion as he tries to bribe Death and fails, when all his friends abandoned him, when all his riches and status cannot help him. The only person that helps him on his journey is Good Deeds. In “Everyman” death is also proved to be a great way to face reality.
Everyman faced his reality when Death asked him to find those willing to journey with him to the end (Goldhammer). Everyman faces reality and realize those who claimed to be his friends and family turn their back to him. He faces broken promises and deceit from those he held close. Some promised to be by his side through tough times and poverty, others promised never to abandon him, Good Fellowship stated he would go to hell with him if need be. Everyman has some great friends before him all who would bend over backwards and stand by his side.
But he soon comes to realize the false promises and lies that were whispered in his ear. He realizes that these are not true friends, but false ones and that no one will go with him except for Good Deeds. Everyman starts to understand that with death nothing stands the test of time. His five senses also fade as time goes they do go with him to the grave but overtime fade like everything else. They eventually leave him each one at a time, starting with beauty (Gassner, 1969).
The play overall shows how good deeds will be the only thing that will be left behind and talked about when you die. Everyman” illustrates how everything becomes insignificant at the end of your life. All the things you claimed ownership of or held some value in your life cannot even be depended on (Paulson, 2015). Those who depend on their attributes such as strength, beauty, discerment soon finds that they too fade with time as with everything else. Death prings the reality of the impermanence, this world is and all that you are made of. No one and nothing can help you in your hour of death. Good deeds is the only thing that holds some substance after one is dead.
People can and will talk about all the great deeds you did how you served others. They look at one’s life and say he lived it to the fullest not by living for himself but living for others. The way the author uses death in this play helps us realize how we cannot rely on ourselves. Everyman loses everything in death all that was Everyman left in death, even Knowledge who brought him to the truth of his sinfulness leaves him at the end (Robinson, 2015). The usage of death in this play allows us to realize that God is the mediator and He alone is all we can rely on.
He created us and He decides when death will knock on our door. The author of “Everyman” kept this play simple so that an average person would understand. He used death to pass a message to those who read or watched that there is no need to live in fear of death. But instead to realize that God is the one to be feared and respected, understanding that He is the mediator and death His messenger. The play promotes hope and faith through forgiveness and conviction of one’s sins. As Christians, it is a testament to our lives and struggles we face.
And through these struggles and repenting, we find forgiveness and a life in eternity with our Lord. The author treats and perceives death in a way that allows people to come to repentance. The treats death as an eye opener revealing those who have been lost to finally see their sins and be convicted. All man will face death and no one will avoid it. Death was created by God and it is good. Designing by him to end a mans life and time on earth. The author uses Death in “Everyman” as a second chance for forgiveness and repentance as a means to save God’s beloved children.