Morality Plays • Only five medieval English morality plays still survive: • 1. The Pride of Life (a corrupted Anglo-Irish text) • 2. The Castle of Perseverance • 3. Wisdom • 4. Mankind • 5. Everyman (translated from a Dutch original.) • Two other plays similar to Morality Plays still exist: • Second Sheppard's Play • Hickscorner • These are all that are left of an influential dramatic genre. • The understanding of style has been developed based upon the influence these plays had on surviving literature and art
Morality Plays • An attempt to educate via entertainment • Dominican and Franciscan monks developed the morality play • in the 13th century by adding actors and theatrical • elements to their sermons. • They hoped the (mainly illiterate) masses could more easily • learn the basics of Christianity through dramatic spoken word. • The plays made complex topics such as original sin and • atonement more easily understood. • By personifying Vices, Virtues, the Devil and the • Good Angel, stories of temptation were made accessible • to those who were unable to read.
Morality Plays • The main theme of the morality play is • this: • Man begins in innocence • Man falls into temptation • Man repents and is saved. • The central action is the struggle of Man against the seven deadly • sins that are personified into real characters • It is believed that the allegory of vices and virtues fighting • over Man’s soul goes back to the 4th century Roman epic, • The allegorical application of theatre to Christianity • is intended to help the audience understand sin and virtue
Morality Plays • The three greatest temptations that Man faces in morality • plays are • The World • The Flesh • The Devil • THE MESSAGE: • “Sin is inevitable” • “Repentance is always possible” • Morality plays were not holiday-specific • Performed at any time of the year- • Repentance occurs at any time of the year.
Morality Plays Characteristics A protagonist who represents either humanity as a whole or a smaller social structure. Supporting characters are personifications of good and evil. Provides the audience with moral guidance. Morality plays encourage men to live a righteous life
Everyman • The archetypal morality play • Characters represent broad ideas • Characters in Everyman are: • God • Death • Everyman • Goods (Riches) • Good-Deeds • Angel • Knowledge • Beauty • Discretion • Strength • Doctor • The personified meanings of these characters are not hidden
PLOT: • God, believing that the people on earth are too focused on wealth and worldly possessions, sends Death to Everyman to remind him of God's power and the importance of upholding values. • EVERYMAN is a concrete example of a Morality Play because of… • The emphasis put on morality • The vast difference between good and evil • The strong presence of God • However, most morality plays focus more on evil, while Everyman focuses more on good, highlighting sin in contrast. Everyman