Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 23 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Summoning of Everyman is one of the last — perhaps the last — of the medieval morality plays, probably written towards the end of the fifteenth century. Everyman is a superficially simple play. It serves as a memento mori, and can be related to the ubiquitous medieval Ars Moriendi, the art of dying. This structure makes it an unusual play, as the protagonist is already under sentence of death and his actual death at the end cannot be seen as a particular turning point apart from the shock of seeing the hero willingly walk into his own grave. But the play, although it is closely related in style and form to the sermon cannot be read as a gloomy or straightforwardly forbidding work. Like the danse macabre, Everyman can also be read as an affirmation of the life lived before death and the need to balance each against the other, preparing for death in the middle of life. Accordingly, it is often very funny, most significantly through the representation of figures who will perform any number of mental gymnastics in order to avoid having to face the reality of death, the humour making this central point all the more vivid for the audience.

Keywords: medieval morality plays, Tudor drama, religious drama, dying, death, life

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.