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The Conflict Of Mercy And Mischief

918 words - 4 pages

Mankind, one of the medieval morality plays, is a play contrasting the ideas of good and evil. Throughout the play, a recurring idea present is the conflict between Mercy, the character that represents “good” and Mischief, the character that represents the idea of “evil”. The conflict between good and evil are created to serve one purpose which is to influence mankind. Mercy influences Mankind to focus on God’s judgment so that Mankind can spend eternal life in heaven. On the other hand, the three evil vices, Nowadays, Nought, and Newguise, want Mankind to focus on earthly possessions and feelings rather than God’s judgment. The overall theme of Mankind is the corruption, rise and fall of Mankind due to the influences of both good and evil.
While the overall theme and tone of Mankind had a religious tone, the author of Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge, offers six objections to the ideas and themes of the miracle play. In the first objection, the author states that plays are not performed to worship God. Plays are created to create earthly pleasures for people. Plays make people laugh, bringing joy and distracting them from God. The second objection states that plays are considered a sin because it corrupted a whole community. Plays occupy the whole audience to focus on the vanities of life rather than focusing on faith or charity. The Tretise third objection is that people do not cry while watching the play because of the compassion and devotion that they have towards Christ. Rather, members of the audience cry due to their personal vanities not their own sins. Tretise states the men will not leave sin in order to worship and men will not convert to a more religious lifestyle after seeing the play. The fifth objection implied by the author is that plays are a false world of recreation. Plays are not considered a holy way of recreation; in fact they are considered one of the worst recreations. Plays mix worldly vanities with worship forcing people to associate vanity and worship together. Finally, the sixth objection is that plays are made in order to delight the body. The live, elaborate images of the play are associated with a man’s vanity.
Even though Mercy’s speeches provides insight towards why one should turn to the power of God rather than giving into temptation, the author Tretise would still object the ideas presented by Mercy. Mercy states, “In good works I advise you, sovereigns, to be perseverant/to purify you soul that they be not corrupt,/For you ghostly enemy will make his avaunt,.Your good conditions if he may interrupt,” (25-28), warning the audience not to give into evil ways. While the play is convaying a “good”...

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