Composers and their stage works 



An English morality play of an allegorical nature and written before 1500. It is the best-known example of its genre. Sharing a common Latin source with the earlier Dutch Elckerlijc, Everyman is concerned, in the manner of all moralities, with the struggle of virtues and vices for the soul of man. However, this particular morality rises above the level of a didactic sermon and is infused with dramatic life by the intensity of presentation, the humour and the exquisite detail of the vividly drawn characters.

Everyman is summoned by Death to give an account of his life before God. He begs Death to spare him for a little while, but Death refuses. Abandoned by Fellowship, Kindred, Cousin, and his Goods, Everyman asks his Good Deeds to accompany him, but she is so weak from neglect that she cannot stand. Her sister Knowledge leads Everyman to Confession, a holy man who gives him the scourge of penance, and when he begins to scourge himself, Good Deeds recovers from her sickness. After receiving the robe of contrition from Knowledge, Everyman calls together Discretion, Strength, Beauty, and Five Wits, who escort him as far as the graveside but there desert him. Knowledge leaves him at the last moment, as he steps into the grave accompanied only by Good Deeds.