Morality plays are very popular during the fifteenth and sixteenth century. The term is most commonly used to depict religious plays at those times. Morality plays are more commonly widespread on Europe as well as Spain in particular. It was a result of the religious ceremonies or liturgies of the Catholic Church. It was said that morality plays were developed as a result to the papal’s proclamation which bans clergy constituents from materializing into stage plays. Morality plays have had great influences on the works of talented English playwrights especially during the years of 1500 and 1600s.
The Pope’s decision which banned priests from appearing on stage gave rise to Morality plays. These plays usually show the struggle of human as he chooses between good and evil. Its main concern could also be seen on the ways human souls could be saved. (Microsoft Encarta). Writers of morality plays are hard to trace for they made use of anonymous names which does not give any clue to their identity whatsoever. The said plays include the current happening of the time and thus it gives way to realistic comedy.
The rationale behind morality plays is to teach the viewers regarding the Christian practices particularly the Christian’s approach regarding death. The common theme of all morality plays is the clash of evil and good to which good would always overcome or defeat evil. However one should not be deluded that morality plays made use of certain personages. Rather morality plays make use of personification of certain virtues and vices. Morality plays most common trademark is its mobility.
Morality plays also do not make use of raise stages thus it allows the audiences to better relate with the actors of the said play. Among the two most renowned morality plays are Everyman and The Castle of Perseverance. EVERYMAN Everyman is one of the most popular morality play to ever survive. Arguably, the play was taken or is a translation of a Flemish morality play, Elckerlijc. However, there are also claims that Everyman is the original play whereas the Elckerlijc is nothing but a mere translation. The central character of the play is Everyman.
Everyman tells the story of the protagonist as he traveled in the Valley of Death. He learned that material things could not accompany him on the said journey and in the end the only ones who would be his companion all throughout his voyage is the figurative character of Good Deeds. (Anonymous). Everyman is (as the title implies) aims to reach every human beings and teach them about the values and important things in life especially when one is already near death. Everyman taught its audience that death is something which no one could escape.
Once death come our way there is no escaping it and there is basically nothing we can do about it and thus we ought to be prepared for Death’s coming into our lives. Basically the play aims to teach its audiences that no matter how rich one person is in the end he could not bring that wealth with him when he died. It also points out on its audiences that the only thing one could take with him on the hour of the final judgment is nothing but those things which he have given on the time that he was still alive.
In a way it also showed how typical people do not really regard God while one is still alive. Everyman values his riches and the material things more than he values the things which are most important such as “Good Deed” per se. He neglected Good Deed while he was still at his prime never comprehending that in the end Good Deed would be the only one who would gladly accompany him at the Final Judgment. In a way the play also focused on the important religious sacraments for all Christians. It showed how confession and penance could help a person on his journey towards the Valley of Death.
It also emphasized the importance of extreme unction at the moment that a person dies. It also pointed out that everything material as well as a person’s physicality could not be taken in the next life. In one way or another, the play also showed the typical view of the Christian world during the medieval times. It portrayed that material things are elements used by evils. It also pointed out that evil makes use of material possessions in order to blind a person from realizing what is really important in one’s journey towards life.
This can be seen in the play as Everyman is not really prepared for the coming of Death because he had been so blinded by his material possessions thus he was nothing but short of preparations as he approached the after life. Thus, in a way Everyman proved to be one of the finest examples of morality plays as it gave the allegorical characters of virtues and vices. It is also showed how the typical morality play works, man being distracted by evils but in the end the evils would be overcome by goodness. THE CASTLE OF PERSEVERANCE The Castle of Perseverance is a fine example of a morality play.
It is also one of those plays who survived with its full length still intact along with its stage sketch. The Castle of Perseverance, just like any other morality plays, shows the battle mankind needs to go through in order to defeat the evils present in our world. It shows the struggle between good and evil as the good tries to save mankind whereas evil does not fail to tempt mankind into choosing him over good. The Castle of Perseverance tells the story of a young child as he grows older and often falling under the traps of material possessions.
This can be seen as he always chooses and follows Luxuria. However, Poenetenia tried to save Humanum Genus as he asked the latter to trust him. It is in this regard that they approached Confessio. Confession in turn showed the way to the Castle of Perseverance whereas the castle is in constant attack by the different kinds of vices. However, the Castle of Perseverance did not fall to any of those attacks as every assault is always thwarted. However, in some of his years the protagonist of the story fell into the power of Avaritia.
It is in this regard that Avaritia, upon the death of the protagonist, stated his claim over Humanum Genus. However the prayers conducted by Pity and Peace released Humanum Genus from the clutches of Avaritia since God himself helped Humanum Genus from being taken by the bad angel. SIMILARITIES OF EVERYMAN AND THE CASTLE OF PERSEVERANCE Since both Everyman and The Castle of Perseverance are morality plays they tackle almost the same issues especially in regards to the Catholic religion. Basically both plays protagonist is someone to whom “everyman” or all “mankind” could relate to.
Thus, in this regard we could say that the protagonist of both plays comprises the whole human species as the term “everyman” and “mankind” implies. Another important factor is the presence of virtues and vices in figurative or allegorical presentations. Thus, both plays is a good example of what the very essence of morality plays are – showing its viewers the seven deadly sins and the seven heavenly virtues. As one may also notice, both plays shows how human beings approach death, it showed their fears, and the like. They showed the importance of confession and penitence as one approaches death.
It also showed the evils the worldly possessions bring to the point that one could easily forget what is really important. It depicts how human beings are usually corrupted by material wealth and how such way of living could endanger our chances of entering the Kingdom of Heaven when death approaches us. Basically, the plays also showed how merciful God is. It showed how God tried to save us humans from entering the gate of hell. It depicts God as a forgiving Father always there to care for us. However, it also shows how God could get disappointed when one of us forgets about him.
However, in the end of both plays it always shows God as someone who cannot abandon his children and with the help of confession and penitence alone, we could be saved. INFLUENCES OF MORALITY PLAYS ON SHAKESPEARE’S Morality plays greatly influenced Shakespeare on writing his plays. These could be seen by the fact that all Shakespearean drama tackles something about the value of morality. It should be noted that Shakespeare’s style of writing his plays is very similar to the style of medieval writers which is another proof as to the influence of morality plays on his works.
Shakespearean drama is also similar to that of morality plays in that it shows the weakness human beings have. As can be seen morality plays refers to Bible and to the doctrines of the Catholic Church. Such is also the case in Shakespeare’s work. It is in this regard that influences of morality plays could be seen on Shakespearean drama. His works basically made use of Bible and Christian doctrines just as morality plays does and this can be seen on his style in writing his plays. (Kastan).
The constant battle between good and evil that could be found on morality plays are also present on Shakespeare’s plays as in the case of Othello wherein the good ones are presented as trustworthy and innocent whereas the evil are deceitful and cunning. Another factor which shows the evidences morality plays have on Shakespeare could be seen on the comedy present on both morality and Shakespearean plays. Both make use of comic techniques in order to entertain their audiences. Another factor is the appearance of the villain.
In morality plays the villains are portrayed by certain vices or even Satan himself. The appearance of villains is also common on a Shakespearean drama wherein the antagonist would do everything to ruin the protagonist. However a factor that would certainly caught one’s interest is the appearance of temptation and debate on Shakespearean play and this is basically taken by Shakespeare from the morality plays. Thus, overall the influence of morality plays is evidently present on most Shakespearean dramas. (Best) ON TEMPTATION
As stated earlier morality plays always portray the troubles a protagonist goes through in terms of choosing good over evil. As can be seen on the Castle of Perseverance, the protagonist, Humanum Genus or mankind always fell into some kind of temptation all throughout his life. For one, on his younger days he is very inclined to fall victim to Lust or Flesh and Pleasure. On his older days, he had been also inclined towards Covetousness. All throughout the play those vices tried to tempt him into committing those vices since they always pose on a very attractive and tempting manner.
The allegorical virtues however, tried hard to keep him from falling victim towards those temptations, however there efforts often goes to waste. Everyman also showed the same element of temptation as the protagonist is in constant temptation of material things. The fact that he was very much blinded by wealth and material possessions is very evident when he was told by Death that he is going to die soon and thus he searched for companions to which he asked certain vices to accompany him first before he approached the last on his list which is Good Deeds. This very same temptation is also present on most of Shakespeare’s play.
In Othello for one, Othello is in constant temptation of Iago playing over on the fact that Othello is a very trusting person. The role of temptation was easily played by Iago because of his skill in manipulating people in order to attain his desired end. In Macbeth, the lead character also undergoes temptation through Lady Macbeth. Macbeth had been very susceptible to temptation because of his own ambitions and such were also common on most morality plays. It is in this regard that the similarities between the villains of morality plays to those of Shakespearean plays are very evident. (Bloom).