43 pages 1 hour read



Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1485

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Important Quotes

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“Here shall you see how Fellowship and Jollity,

Both Strength, Pleasure, and Beauty,

Will fade from thee as flower in May.

For ye shall hear how our Heavenly King

Calleth Everyman to a general reckoning […]”

(Lines 16-20)

In his preface speech, the Messenger introduces Everyman as a morality play and announces the moral that will be illustrated: that all the earthly qualities human beings hold valuable (“Fellowship and Jollity, / […] Strength, Pleasure, and Beauty”) die with them when God calls them to their final judgment or “reckoning.” Indeed, most of the earthly qualities the Messenger names will show up in the play, dramatically forsaking Everyman until only Good Deeds is left to stand by him during his reckoning.

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“I perceive, here in my majesty,

How that all creatures be to me unkind,

Living without dread in worldly prosperity:

Of ghostly sight the people be so blind,

Drowned in sin, they know me not for their God;

In worldly riches is all their mind,

They fear not my righteousness, the sharp rod.”

(Lines 22-28)

God expresses frustration at the ingratitude of human beings, who spend their lives seeking material wealth (“worldly prosperity”) while neglecting spiritual matters. This causes human beings to sin without fear of God’s justice—the “rod” is a common biblical metaphor for divine retribution—or their impending deaths. This monologue sets the scene for God’s summoning of Everyman to answer for his sins.

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“Go thou to Everyman,

And show him, in my name,

A pilgrimage he must on him take,

Which he in no wise may escape;

And that he bring with him a sure reckoning

Without delay or any tarrying.”

(Lines 66-71)

Having summoned Death, God sends him to bring Everyman to him for a “sure reckoning”—a final judgment in which he answers for his sins. God emphasizes the finality of this reckoning, which Everyman “in no wise may escape” and which will take him from the transient earthly realm to the eternal realm of God.