Everyman – A morality play

While reading Boccaccio’s Decameron, I was reminded of a play I studied in my Foundations of Literature I class last semester. Boccaccio’s introduction stated “in the face of so much affliction and misery all respect for the laws of God and man had virtually broken down and been extinguished in our city”, emphasising on the power of the plague to give every man the freedom to “behave as he pleased” (page 7-8).

It was upon reading this paragraph that I observed parallelism between a morality play, Everyman, and Boccaccio’s Decameron. One of the most interesting characters in the play is the dramatic character of Death, who utterly shocks Everyman as he is enjoying his freedom and thrusts him into a carousel of reflection and apprehension. The play elucidates the indiscriminate nature of death and how death will always catch you unaware and unprepared. In this way, the play resonates with Decameron where Boccaccio sheds light on the temporary, indefinite nature of life itself, and how many tend to be blinded by materials and worldly treasures only to have death grip them when they are in the midst of living luxuriously.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching and reading the play (Norton Drama page 294-319; copies available online) and would definitely recommend it to everyone.

Link to one performance of the play attached below:


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