“Everyman” dates back to the Dark Ages when illiteracy was the norm and religious and moral stability were stressed. Symbolism was used as a tool to teach common people the ways of Christianity and its moral system, due to the illiteracy. “Everyman” was a morality play that was full of symbolic meaning and simple ideas designed for easy comprehension for the masses of the time.
This is a play that has been represented in an elementary way in order to make a greater impact on the people of the Dark Ages. The play begins with a messenger who first introduces the story and then prepares the audience for its lesson. The main character, Everyman, embodies everyone and enables the audience to recognize the struggle concerning moral judgment that religious beliefs encourage in every person. The moral lessons in this play are represented by actions of the symbolic characters. The characters in the play each personify one aspect of Everyman's life and are given those names to clarify what they symbolize. The names of the characters, including Everyman allows this story to become personal for the audience because the elements the characters represent are familiar to the audience. This helps the lessons to resonate with audience and have a greater impact.
The story begins when Everyman is approached by Death and is informed that the end is near. Everyman tries to buy himself some more time. His attempt portrays his character as a man who does not show concern for good morals. Death does not accept his offer and Everyman begins to realize he has to own up to what he has done with his life. This example of Everyman trying to buy himself another chance is similar to what was happening in the Catholic Church during the same era. Many people were trying to buy their way into heaven, which eventually lead to an upheaval of the Catholic institution.
After much internal conflict Everyman begins the pilgrimage that will eventually lead him to his judgment. Throughout the play Everyman seeks out council and company for his pilgrimage. He is turned down by Fellowship first and then seeks out his Kindred and Cousin, and then Goods under the assumption that they will surely go with him on his journey. They refuse to go and Everyman feels betrayed by them. He is beginning to realize he cannot look to anyone to give him solace. He is on his own and must face this alone. The comforts that he has distracted himself with his whole life can no longer help him. They were...