Perception of death and the treatment of death in Everyman

Introduction

The play “Everyman” is a morality play produced during the late 15th century. The play begins with God declaring that his creatures failed to abide by him and serve him effectively and they stay without considering their well-being in life after death. Death is God’s sent agent that brings everyman to reckon his actions in the world of the living. In the play, the author perceives death as a cruel messenger that takes away human life. Everyman’s perception and the way he treats death is full of confusion and stress. For instance, in the play, Everyman does not want to die and attempts to persuade death to give him another chance and even longer time to make everything right. In the play “Everyman,” death is perceived and treated as a character who reminds everyman on his ultimate link with God and accountability to sin.

In “Everyman,” death is perceived as God’s agent. Death as the messenger of God, has to pass the message that God gives to the people in the land of the living, whether bad or good. Death has to follow the commands of God and does not act based on people’s perceived suitable moments. In the play, when death knocks at Everyman, he seems not ready for death. Everyman tends to bribe death with materials things to extend his life. However, Everyman fails when death says that he does not abide by worldly riches when passing God’s message. Though Everyman fears death, he fails to understand that death is no longer in control of situations, but God does.

Death is perceived as a means of facing reality in life. In “Everyman,” Death allows Everyman to get anybody who will be willing to go with him on the journey to meet their creator. Everyman faces the reality of the fact that all close friends and kindred do not care about him and are unwilling to join him in the journey. In regards to this, Everyman understands that no one will go with him and that everything fades with time. However, Everyman’s five senses, strength, and beauty agrees to go with him but begins to disappear one after the other at the grave-site. Eventually, Everyman faces reality when he finally meets God alone without his friends, kindred, beauty, and senses.

The author of the play “Everyman” perceives death as something that ends people’s life. According to Lund (2016), death can be said to be something real or not real, but if it is real, then it is the end of an individual’s life. When a person dies, he or she has to forget everything he or she had. The person must forget the friends, families, visions and wealth. Also, a person must be able to forget about their talents, knowledge, and experience acquired in life. In the play, Everyman understands that he was unable to use the worldly things as a savior for death. For instance, all his friends and family forsook him because no one agreed to accompany him during the journey of death. Therefore, it was the end with Everyman because he was leaving everything behind. 

Death is perceived as something that is mandatory or must happen to everyone. The author of the play outlines how death affects everyone, whether rich or poor. To start with, though Everyman was living a comfortable and luxurious life, he was unable to escape death. In the play, despite Everyman’s attempt to seek for ways to escape death, he eventually had to die. Death is not a respecter of the world’s materials, someone’s experience, and even someone’s good behavior. Besides, even the people who left Everyman when he was facing death understand that they will also go the same path. For instance, when Everyman his cousins and kindred, they tell him that they have no powers to assist, but they will meet him in the afterlife. In the play, everyone understands that they will face death one time when their time approaches.

Death is viewed as something that results in repentance. Since no one like death, people will do everything possible to shun it. Upon realizing that death is coming, Everyman becomes unhappy and remorseful and begins to look for various ways to evade death. After trying all means possible to run away from death and failed, he turns to repent for his sins. He got to full repentance when the people who were so close to him left him, and he has to face the journey alone. He refers to the friends and kindred as false hopes and traitors. In the absence of death, people would not recognize the full extent of their actions in the land of the living. He would not have recognized the value of being kind to other people. God expected Everyman to have shared his assets on Earth, especially with the poor.  

In the play, Death helps Everyman by intimating him with how to arrange his track record. Based on Christian teachings, Everyman has a book of good or bad, which depends on his actions while living on Earth. Everyman must open the book and read it out when he meets the creator “God.” Death reminds Everyman about his creator by asking him whether he has forgotten God. After realizing there is no escape, Everyman embarks on full repentance and begins to see good deeds as his final hope. He believes that without good deeds, he will spend his eternity in hell something that he does not want. In light of this, it is through Death that Everyman learned that there is God and that he must have good deeds to get a ticket to enter heaven.

Death is perceived as something that brings separation and loneliness; hence, no one wants to be close to death. In a normal society, when a person dies, people mourn for the loss of their loved one. In regards to this, people view as an enemy that robs them of the people they loved from the land of the living. In the play, Everyman’s struggle to face Death explains his understanding of death; separation from Earth. Besides, death resulting in loneliness is captured when Everyman asks the friends and Kindred to accompany him. Everyman realized that he would be alone; thus, he wanted some people to accompany him on the journey. Death is the ultimate gate that separates people from the land of the living and a bridge to meet with God.

The author treats death as darkness and a curse because it results in sadness. In the play “Everyone,” no one is happy about death. Many people understand death as something that causes pain, grief, and sorrow in the life of people (Adu-Gyamfi & Schmidt, 2010). For instance, through death, people have lost close family members, friends, and have left essential things that they worked hard for in the land of the living. The characters in the play are also not happy with death. Everyman is grieved when he gets the message of his death. Everyman believes that death will deny him the chance to enjoy the things of this world, especially the wealth that he had gathered. In addition, Everyman believes that Death is the end of everything, and he wanted to fight to keep on living on Earth. Unfortunately, Everyman goes alone, leaving everything behind.

In the play, everyman perceives death as cruel that eventually takes human life. Death in the play is viewed as a God’s messenger that tends to bring everyman to account for his actions in the land of the living. God is no longer happy with everyman’s thirst for riches and material things. God sends death to man as a gateway and transition to the afterlife. According to Davis (2016), a man should pursue good over evil to attain afterlife after death. In light of this, death brings fear as it is perceived by Everyman as cruel and unforgiving. Everyman is ready to die because of his actions, and he asks death for more time to mend or rectify his actions. Unfortunately, because death is cruel and unforgiving, there is no second chance to make amends to wrong choices.

The play “Everyman” shows that Death causes fear for all the characters apart from Good deeds. It is apparent that all the characters except good deeds are materialistic and do not have time to interact with God. Death is an actual sense involves a separation of the characters from the body, meaning that they will not be able to interact with world-based pleasures (Doka & Morgan, 2016). Also, Death is displayed to be controlled by God because he is the one who sends death and determines the time it should follow an individual. From the play, Everyone and other characters displayed are afraid of death because it causes separation.

Conclusion

In the play “Everyman,” the author talks about death in a manner that can be understood easily. The author displays how people are afraid of death because of the physical separation that it causes. However, the author determines that people are not supposed to fear death; they only need to understand that God is in control of death and that he uses death as an agent. From the play, death is inevitable; meaning that everyone has to face it and there is no way out. Death is also perceived as something that ends people’s efforts in the land of the living.

References

Adu-Gyamfi, Y., & Schmidt, M. R. (2010). Literature and Spirituality. Longman.

Davis, S. T. (2016). Death and Afterlife. Springer.

Doka, K. J., & Morgan, J. D. (2016). Death and spirituality. Routledge.

Lund, D. H. (2016). Death and consciousness. McFarland.

PCC Videos (2012). Everyman – PCC Performing Arts Center. Retrieved from; https://youtu.be/JkM8v0m3URg

Paul Halsall (2019). Medieval Sourcebook; Everyman, 15th Century. Retrieved; https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/everyman.asp

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