Even though Everyman, the most famous of all the morality plays, was written centuries ago – late 15th century to be exact – much can still be learnt from it.
In the beginning of the play, Death approaches Everyman to inform him that it is his hour of death. Everyman is not ready to die and tries to bribe and reason with Death. Death does not succumb, but allows Everyman to bring a companion to speak for Everyman’s good works.
As the play continues, Everyman tries to get Fellowship to go with him. At first, Fellowship said that he would go with Everyman, yet, ultimately goes back on his word.
Next, Everyman approaches Goods, whom he loved the most. However, Goods out rightly refuses to go and states “That he [Goods] bringeth many into hell.” (Line 117)
Finally, Everyman approaches Good-Deeds, whom he loved the least. Even in her weakened state, for Everyman’s sins encumbered her, Good-Deeds readily agrees to go with Everyman.
Now, here’s what we can learn:
The majority of human beings are seldom ready to go when their time comes to die. Instead of focusing on things that really count for eternity – reaching other people for Christ and striving to live for Christ – we, like Everyman, tend to focus more on the world and the current pleasures of life (which Goods depicted), allowing them to drag us further into sin, and choose to ignore the Holy Spirit trying to work in us.
Alas, there is one, very wrong moral being taught in this play. The play emphasizes that Good-Deeds (which personifies the good works that people do) will be the one that allows us to get into and stay in Heaven. This is not true and goes against what Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For be grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works (Good-Deeds), lest any man should boast.”
Truly, is this not salvation plan simpler than trying to earn salvation by our own merits? For no matter how hard everyman will try to do good, our good will never be good enough for the Lord!