Everyman | Study Guide

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Course Hero. "Everyman Study Guide." Course Hero. 14 June 2019. Web. 17 Aug. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Everyman/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, June 14). Everyman Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Everyman/

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Course Hero. "Everyman Study Guide." June 14, 2019. Accessed August 17, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Everyman/.

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Course Hero, "Everyman Study Guide," June 14, 2019, accessed August 17, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Everyman/.

Everyman | Plot Summary

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Summary

Visit from Death

In an introduction a Messenger asks for the audience's attention. The action begins with God complaining that men have become thoroughly wicked and have taken for granted everything He has given them. He summons Death and commands him to bring Everyman to accounting.

Death obeys and comes upon Everyman walking alone. He asks Everyman if he has forgotten God, and tells him he must make a pilgrimage to the afterlife to be judged. This will be a journey from which he can never return. Everyman stalls, begging for more time. He complains he was not expecting Death. An exasperated Death tells him he should have known better and gives him a brief time to prepare himself.

Earthly Friends

Everyman laments his fate. He asks Fellowship, who represents his earthly friends, for help. Fellowship declares he would walk through hell with Everyman. However, he quickly changes his position when he realizes the afterlife is actually where Everyman is going. He says he will be with Everyman if he wants to enjoy life, but he will not go on this journey with him. Everyman turns to Kindred and Cousin, who make similar promises, but also abandon him when they learn where he is going. Everyman calls out to Goods, who represents his wealth and worldly possessions, saying he loved Goods best of all. Goods says he can fix any earthly problem but will only hurt Everyman's case with God, as love of wealth is a trap that damns souls.

Everyman calls out to Good-Deeds to come with him and speak to God. She says she would if she were not so weak from the weight of his sin. She directs him to her sister Knowledge, who will guide him. Knowledge brings Everyman to see Confession, who gives Everyman a penance to absolve his sins. Everyman performs his penance and prays to God for forgiveness. Once this is done, Good-Deeds is healed and able to come with him.

Knowledge and Good-Deeds advise Everyman to gather virtues to himself: Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five-Wits. The virtues urge Everyman to receive communion and extreme unction before he dies. Five-Wits and Knowledge discuss sacraments and how priests are God's actors on Earth, acknowledging the soul cannot receive salvation without their vital work. Everyman returns from the sacraments ready to go to his grave, but his earthly virtues—Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Five-Wits—leave him as he dies. Knowledge stays with him until the end, but she cannot follow him after death. However, she hears the angels sing and knows Good-Deeds has gone with Everyman to heaven, where he has been saved.

Salvation

An angel affirms that Everyman has been saved, and a Doctor reiterates the lesson of the play:

  • Only Good-Deeds and no earthly possession, relation, or virtue may stand with a person's soul before God.
  • Good-Deeds must be robust enough to stand God's scrutiny.

There will be no chance to change after death. Those found wanting will be cast into eternal damnation and those who are righteous will be crowned in heaven.

Everyman Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction

Introduction

1 God dispatches Death.

Rising Action

2 Death summons Everyman.

3 Everyman's friends and family abandon him.

4 Everyman's wealth laughs at him.

5 Good-Deeds cannot walk under the weight of Everyman's sins.

6 Knowledge directs Everyman to Confession.

Climax

7 Good-Deeds regains strength and goes with Everyman.

Falling Action

8 Earthly virtues join Everyman but leave as he dies.

Resolution

9 With only Good-Deeds beside him, Everyman is saved.

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