Keller details that The Summoning of Everyman, departs from typical morality conflict, asserting that, “Everyman, instead, focuses exclusively on the final phase of the morality narrative-the coming of death. The play thus eliminates the usual struggle between good and evil for the soul of the protagonist.” (2000). The author combines the presence of Death, the inevitability of death, and the fear inducing specter of the “march toward death”, to portray the nature of physical death in the will of God as the consummation of all things.
Everyman, is the most widely studied and produced morality play of the genre. In it, the audience “…traces its hero from a state of sin and unpreparedness through repentance to a triumphant death, his salvation assured.” (Westburg, 1983). The author begins depicting a sovereign God who looks down on Earth with grave disappointment as He considers the disaster that characterizes the life of Everyman. In response to this total depravity, God dispatched Death to summon the protagonist to the inescapable end of all life, to bring all things to their expected end, death. In Everyman, the anonymous author depicts Death, and the threat of his coming as the consummation of all things.
Death is clearly seen as God’s messenger, sent to bring conviction to Everyman and summon the protagonist to account for his life. He is subordinate to the will of God, and like all messengers in Scripture, seeks only to do the will of God. The indisputable presence of Death creates the first conflict for Everyman. There seems to be mixed emotions among people about whether they would want to know the precise date and time of their demise. Some might want to know how they would die. What is almost certain is that no one wants to meet Death face-to-face, and for Everyman, that meeting proved overwhelming. He weeps, begs, and pleads for more time, because like most of humanity, he knows that he is not ready for a meeting with God.
Numerous people have fulfilled the spirit of Habermas’ words, “Death limits or even ends our dreams and plans. It crushes our fondest hopes" (174). People with great promise have seen their dreams cut short because of death and while there is no rational person who readily embraces death, Everyman reminds the saint and sinner alike that eventually all are certain to die. The witness of Scripture confirms this truth, saying, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27). It is certain that if the Lord delays His return, all men will die. That truth cements the second major conflict for Everyman, the inevitability of death.
The presence of Death was of immediate concern for Everyman; however, after the departure of Death, Everyman, and all of his friends, are forced to live with the reality that death is inevitable and their conversations and interactions are all grounded in that truth. The concept of mediaeval friendship is central to the dialogue found...