Rationale for the questions in Quiz 2, Everyman

English 211 

Quiz #2: Everyman (Anon.)

1) Who is the figure who summons Everyman, and to whose "court" does he summon him?

Death.  Or God's Sheriff.  That's the way the C15 authors saw the relationship between the deity and humans, as a rental agreement which might require the intercession of the sheriff if we failed to fulfill our contract.   Without knowing this, the rest of the plot is completely meaningless to the reader.

2) and 3) Identify the characters who speak two out of these three passages.

"I lie here in corners, trussed and piled so high,

And in chests I am locked so fast--

Also sacked in bags--thou mayst see with thine eye

I cannot stir, in packs low where I lie."

Hey...piled up in piles or locked in chests or tied into bags...sounds like gold to me!  The play calls the character "Goods."   This is easy to guess but significant because of the playful use of allegory to suggest that gold cannot speak because it is restrained, tied up, and thus of no use to Everyman's soul in the great accounting.  This is an irony since in a literal accounting the gold might be the only thing which would save Everyman's body.

"And yet, if thou wilt eat and drink and make good cheer,

Or haunt to women the lusty company,

I would not forsake you while the day is clear,

Trust me verily!"

This is "Fellowship," one step away in the affinity group from "Kindred" and "Cousin," but still close in the medieval system of social relations.  These two characters owe each other debts created by acts shared, witnessed, and remembered.  The betrayal of that memory is so crucial that the author of Everyman ranks it just after betrayal by one's own kin.  Note that Fellowship goes on to boast that, even if Everyman wants to "murder or any man kill" he will help Everyman "with a good will."  This is a variety of corrupted faith that the poet obviously wants us to consider as more than mere excess.   What kind of test of friendship is such an act?

"All earthly things is but vanity.

Beauty, Strength, and Discretion do man forsake,

Foolish friends and kinsmen that fair spake--

All fleeth save _________________, and that am I."

[note--space indicates name of character, not length of name or number of words in name]

Good Deeds, the only character/attribute to follow Everyman to the grave, says this in a surprising rejection of the more acceptable characters who assist in Everyman's redemption.  These things which forsake Everyman are the last retainers to flee the line of battle.  See Goods for a mockery of that Anglo-Saxon loyalty formula ("Battle of Maldon") in lines 425-6.

Extra Credit: This is a Christian play, but is it Catholic or Protestant and why? (one short sentence)

Though it expresses suspicion of the priesthood (ll. 750ff.) it requires Confession as a sacrament before salvation, a process which the Protestant reformers rejected.  The struggle among adherents of both sects created turbulent debates about the basic articles of faith and the ceremonies which celebrated them, and this, in turn, may have produced the need for plays like Everyman to explain the faith to the masses.