Fellowship (from Everyman)

Fellowship sees a frown on Everyman’s face and asks him what’s wrong. Everyman hesitates to answer, so Fellowship promises to be true to him and go with him anywhere, even all the way to hell if need be. But when Everyman tells him that Death has sent him to stand before the judge Adonai and make a reckoning for his life, Fellowship quickly renigs on his promise, saying he wouldn’t go there even for his own father. They part ways, never to see each other again, and Everyman says:

Alack, shall we thus depart indeed—
Ah, Lady, help!—without any more comfort?
Lo, Fellowship forsaketh me in my most need!
For help in this world whither shall I resort?
Fellowship herebefore with me would merry make,
And now little sorrow for me doth he take.
It is said, “In prosperity men friends may find
Which in adversity be full unkind.”
Now whither for succor shall I flee,
Since that Fellowship hath forsaken me?

from Everyman, after 1485

This is Part 3 in a series of Sunday segments from this allegory, which I am sharing as much to educate as to entertain. Click here to read Part 1: Messenger and Part 2: God.

Everyman is the best surviving example of that kind of medieval drama which is known as the morality play. Moralities apparently evolved side by side with the mysteries and in England were, like them, acted by trade guilds, though they were composed individually and not in cycles. They both have a primarily religious purpose, though their method of attaining it is different. The mysteries endeavored to make the Christian religion more real to the unlearned by dramatizing significant events in Biblical history and by showing what these events meant in terms of human experience. The moralities, on the other hand, employed allegory to dramatize the moral struggle that Christianity envisions as present in every man. The actors are every man and the qualities within him, good or bad, and the plot consists of his various reactions to these qualities as they push and pull him one way or another—that is, in Christian terms, toward heaven or toward hell.

 

 

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