The sample essay on Everyman Good Deeds deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
`Everyman’s Good Deeds – For Life or Death? Everyman, in its attempt to clearly depict the importance of man’s morality, focuses on a faith based on works, however; this focus is not on good deeds already obtained but on locating said deeds before proceeding to death. It would seem, then, that it is not necessary for Everyman to reflect on good deeds he has performed but that he find a way to acquire them quickly.
Unlike the Protestant view, which bases religion on faith alone, Everyman noticeably centers on the Catholic religion that was prevalent during medieval times.
Since illiteracy was a vast problem, Catholic religious leaders needed to get their message out to their followers. It was vital that these people become aware of the fate of their souls if they disregarded works.
Everyman made it clear to all that saw it that without “good deeds” they had no way to heaven. It did not, however, require that these good deeds be performed over time but that they could be found, through “knowledge”, before death came. It is crucial to the interpretation of this drama that one believe that their eternity depends on the good works that they do in life.
The fact that this is considered a “morality play” predicts that there will be a focus on what behavior is customary and accepted as upright.
Yet, when Death comes, it does not demand that Everyman be ready instantaneously to give account for his life. Death gives notice and warns him when he says, “See thou make thee ready shortly”, and herein giving Everyman opportunity to make himself ready (468). Everyman then turns to Fellowship whom he feels is “best my complaint to make” (468). By looking to Fellowship for comfort, Everyman displays his awareness of his failure in the works department.
He does not immediately look for his works to save him from his fate. He looks for companionship for his journey. He acknowledges that he is in “great jeopardy” and wants to “ease” his “sorrow” (468). Knowing that his good deeds are lacking, he is simply looking for a shoulder on which to cry. He does not expect Fellowship to change his fate. He only hopes that he will make it somehow less painful. It would seem then that the focus on morality is not instantly obtained. Everyman turns first to the one he trusts the most, Fellowship, but quickly finds no comfort there.
In the end it is clear that Fellowship will only follow to place where than can “eat and drink and make good cheer, or haunt to women the lusty company” (469-470). This implies that the focus of Everyman’s life has been on these things and not things that are of moral quality. Yet, as Death has indicated, Everyman still has a chance to prepare for his return. Everyman continues to seek companions for his journey. After he is disappointed again by Kindred and Cousin, his own family, he contemplates buying his way into heaven with Goods. Again, it is clear that during his life, these things have been the focus of his heart and soul.
He has not spent time doing the things that were pleasing to God or the church. And yet, he is still given opportunity to find even one task that will save his soul. The “morality play” perspective is still not at the forefront for the observer to see. Although it is clear what has not helped him into heaven, the idea that morality is essential is not yet absolutely clear. Instead of considering good deeds and morality as the essence of life, one can perceive it as an obligation to be performed to avoid chastisement in the end of time. When Everyman finally looks for Good Deeds, he finds that his are so weak that they are of no use to him.
Good Deeds’ profession that “Thy sins hath me sore bound” demonstrates that the life chosen has hindered Everyman from accomplishing good deeds (474). Everyman’s “book of count” is empty “for one letter here” he “cannot see” (475). Once more Everyman is given a chance to change his fate. Good Deeds offers him the assistance of her sister, Knowledge. Through Knowledge, Everyman finds Confession who leads him to connect with his senses and find forgiveness. While he seeks this restitution from the priests, Knowledge divulges that even priests have sin in their hearts.
This immorality, as that of Everyman, is again overlooked. Knowledge allows for the fact that some priests “God their Savior do buy or sell”, “giveth the sinners example bad” and “haunteth women’s company”. Still, Five-Wits hopes this is not true and advises that they “priesthood honor” and “follow their doctrine for our souls’ succor” (480). Everyman comes back with absolution in tow. He is now ready to meet death with his friends by his side. The primary lesson portrayed through this drama, that morality is fundamental, does not seem to be modeled in the best possible way.
Though it does show that Good Deeds are necessary, it does not seem to portray that moral value should be present in everyday life. If, in fact, morality can be obtained prior to death, it is enough. The emphasis is not so much on morality as a way of life, but morality as a fee for life ever-after. It is of great consequence that Everyman realizes that in the end, he has nothing but Good Deeds. Everything else will leave him. Strength, Beauty and even Knowledge are not enough to save the soul. Only Good Deeds will survive the final journey. This fact is abundantly clear. What is not clear is that morality is necessary in life.
It is not enough to do good deeds but one must live a life that promotes good deeds as a style of that life. Good deeds are not just a means to an end but a vital part of a life well-lived. Morality should be a way of life. Moral value should not be something that one tries to find to make death easier. It should make death easier because it was the focus of life. Unfortunately, Death does not come to man as it did to Everyman. There is no warning! Death comes un-expectantly and takes as it will. It is then too late to look for Good Deeds. It is already time to give report. Every man must “liveth well before the day of doom” (484).
PLEASE NOTE: AS ONLY ONCE SOURCE IS USED FOR THIS PAPER — ALL PAGE NUMBERS REFER TO SOURCE CITED AT END OF THIS DOCUMENT. IF YOU USE THIS PAPER AS REFERENCE OR A SOURCE, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT MOST PROFESSORS MAY NOT ACCEPT THIS TYPE OF CITATION EVEN IF YOU ARE CITING FROM A TEXT GIVEN BY THE INSTRUCTOR. BEFORE DECIDING TO USES THIS TYPE OF CITATION ON YOUR OWN PAPERS ~ CHECK WITH EACH INSTRUCTOR FOR WHOM YOU WRITE A PAPER. GOOD LUCK. Works Cited Greenblatt, Stephen; M. H. Abrahams. (2006). The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume A: Middle Ages. New York: Norton & Company, 463-484.