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Everyman and the Bible: Exploring Good Deeds, Faith, and Salvation Essay

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God has become angry with his people. He complains in the fifteenth century English play Everyman about humans and their obsession with material items, riches, and wealth. Men and women, he feels, have taken for granted their blessings. God wants to reprimand Everyman for his sinful life and sends Death to summon him. At the beginning of the allegorical work where figures and actions symbolize general truths, a messenger shares God’s concerns. The messenger tells the audience to watch and listen closely to the morality play so they can learn a lesson about life. Everyman fears Death, and he desires to know what one must do to earn salvation and enter heaven. The writer then implies that the way to achieve salvation is by doing good works. Through positive deeds, a man has the capability of enjoying communion with Christ (McRae 306-307). Everyman’s author wrote the play before the Protestant Reformation, so the piece of literature shares the view of Roman Catholicism during that period. Roman Catholics often rely on a spiritual leader’s interpretation of the Scriptures and some additional texts, while Protestants believe the Bible alone should studied by each individual believer. Biblical Christianity teaches something different from what Everyman does. The Bible stresses that salvation occurs through faith and belief in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for humankind’s sins on Calvary’s cross. St. Paul in the book of Ephesians writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (2.8-10). When Christians...


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...veryman teaches, but they may lead others to salvation.



Works Cited
Munson, William. “Knowing and Doing in ‘Everyman.’” The Chaucer Review, Vol. 19,
No. 3 (Winter 1985): 252-271. Penn State University Press. 04 Nov. 2009.


McRae, Murdo William. “Everyman's Last Rites and the Digression on Priesthood.”
College Literature, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Fall 1986): 305-309. College Literature. 29
Oct. 2009.

Ryan, Lawrence V. “Doctrine and Dramatic Structure in Everyman.” Speculum, Vol. 32,
No. 4 (Oct. 1957):722-735. Medieval Academy of America. 27 Oct. 2009.


Jambeck, Thomas J. “Everyman and the Implications of Bernadine Humanism in the
Character ‘Knowledge.’” Medievalia et Humanistica, NS 8 (1977): 109.
The Bible. New King James Version.


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