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362 Study Questions: Everyman

Vocabulary: allegory, personification, dialogue, drama, mystery play, mystery cycle, dramatis personae, speech prefix, morality play, s. p. seven deadly sins, prosopopoeia

Character Identification: Everyman, Death, Five-Wits, Goods, Good Deeds.

Object Identification:

Introduction: How is Everyman unusual in its depiction of the vices when we contrast it with most morality plays? When was the play written? The play may be a translation of a foreign work written in what language?

Lecture: Is Everyman a morality play or a miracle play?

Reading Questions:

  • The messenger tells the audience to look well and "take good heed" of what in the play?
  • What is the "general reckoning" Everyman will be summoned to in the Messenger's opening speech?
  • Why is God "in all haste" to have this general reckoning? (i.e., what happens to "all that liveth" that requires God to hurry?)
  • What "mighty messenger," does God send to talk to Everyman and summon him to God's presence?
  • What does Everyman offer the "mighty messenger" to defer the matter of this troublesome summoning? What is the Messenger's response?
  • What does Fellowship initially promise to Everyman?
  • How does Fellowship's attitude change when he discovers Everyman's intended destination?
  • What physical affliction does Cousin claim prevents him from accompanying Everyman on his journey?
  • What unusual human ability does the pile of gold represented by Goods have? (Hint: Check out the vocabulary term prosopopoeia!)
  • Goods claims that, for every man he saves, what does he do to a thousand more?
  • When Everyman first starts looking for his Good Deeds (as opposed to "Goods"), where does he find him? (i.e., from where does Good Deeds speak? What put him in this location?)
  • What is the account book Good Deeds pulls out for Everyman to examine?
  • What character is the sister to Good Deeds?
  • Who or what is the mother of Salvation?
  • Examine the following characters: Good Deeds, Goods, Discretion, Strength, Beauty, the Five Wits, Knowledge, Cousin, and Fellowship. What are the last two characters that are able to follow Everyman when the others have been left behind? What is the only character that is able to accompany Everyman beyond death and speak on his behalf?
  • Food for thought: Why is it that Everyman must leave the stage when it comes time for him to partake of the sacraments? Why would a medieval performer not perform this on stage?
  • Once Everyman and Good Deeds descend together into the grave, to whom does Knowledge turn and speak?

Passage Identifications:

A: "Here shall you see how fellowship and jollity, / Both strength, pleasure, and beauty, / Will fade from thee as flower in May. / For ye shall hear how our Heaven-King / Calleth Everyman to a general reckoning."

B: Speaker #1: "Yet of my good will I give thee, if thou will be kind, / Yea a thousand pound shalt thou have-- /And defer this matter till another day."

Speaker #2: ". . . It may not be, by no way. I set nought by gold, silver, nor riches, / Nor by pope, emperor, ki;ng, duke, nor princes."

C: "And yet, if thou wilt eat and drink and make good cheer, / Or haunt to women the lusty company, / I would not forsake you while the day is clear, / Trust me verily!"

D: "Nay, Everyman, I say no. / As for a while I was lent thee; / A season thou hast had me in prosperity. / My condition is man's soul to kill; / If I save one, a thousand I do spill. Weenest thou that I will follow thee? Nay, from this world, not verrily."

E: [speaking from the ground] "Here I lie, cold in the ground: / Thy sins hath me sore bound / That I cannot stear."

F: "Now hath he suffered that we all shall endure, / The Good Deeds shall make all sure. / Now hath he made ending, / Methinketh that I hear angels sing / And make great joy and melody / Where Everyman's soul received shall be."




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