This play is probably my favorite of all the readings from this class so far. It deals with an aspect of Christianity we haven't dealt with in class yet - death. So many of the readings this semester have dealt with violent, vengeful people doing the killing. Instead, we get to see someone on the other end of the spectrum.
God asks death to visit living creatures. For all that He has sacrificed for them, He believes people have grown to be ungrateful:
"I healed their feet; with thorns hurt was my head. I could do no more than I did, truly." (Lines 33 & 34)
This reminds me a bit of the story of Noah and the flood. God struck the world with a flood because humanity became a truly terrible bunch. So, I am assuming that Everyman came before the story of Noah and the flood, since the flood was a form of death.
However, I think the thing that's really interesting about this play is that Everyman goes through all the stages of death. First, Death comes to the Everyman. The Everyman has no idea why this is happening to him. He tries to bargain his way out of it. He offers death wealth if his life can be spared. When he learns it cannot be saved, he looks for comfort from fellowship and support from family. He frets about losing his goods. He thinks he can bargain with good deeds to keep alive.
But then, he turns to knowledge for support. And finally, beauty and strength come to show him that he need not be frightened of death. Once the Everyman comes to terms with his death, an angel comes to take him away.
I found this play to be very fascinating. The themes in this reading mirror the seven stages of grieving. But taking into consideration the time in which it was written, this play probably has an important place in Christian literature. Assuming our readings go in chronological order in this class, this play was written in the early stages of Christianity. Christians were unsure of what happened in the afterlife in their religion, so it must have been a frightening experience. This play helped to show them it was nothing to be frightened of:
Knowledge: "Now he hath made ending. Methinketh that I hear angels sing and make great joy and melody where Everyman's soul received shall be." (Lines 890-894).
This play was an interesting followup to Everyman. It shows that Christianity is not all Heaven and angels. If you sin, there will be consequences. Faustus sells his soul to the devil for knowledge, and he must answer for his actions:
"Now Faustus, must thou needs be damned, and canst thou not be saved. What boots if then to think of God or heaven? Away with such vain fancies, and despair, Despair in God, and trust in Belzebub." (pgs. 1033-1034)
In the timeline of our readings, this shows major progress. Christianity is a fully formed religion. You are rewarded or punished in the afterlife, based on how you lived your life. So, as always, I will be curious to see how Christianity evolves in our next set