Kindred (from Everyman)

Having been forsaken by Fellowship, Everyman now turns to his Kindred and Cousin to see if they will go with him.

KINDRED: Here be we now at your commandment:
Cousin, I pray you show us your intent
In any wise, and not spare.
COUSIN: Yea, Everyman, and to us declare
If ye be disposed to go anywhere.
For we know you well, we will live and die together.
KINDRED: In wealth and woe we will with you hold,
For over his kind a man may be bold….
What account is that which ye must render?
That would I know.
EVERYMAN: Of all my works I must show,
How I have lived and my days spent;
Also of ill deeds that I have used
In my time since life was me lent,
And of all virtues that I have refused.
Therefore I pray you go there with me
To help me make my account, for saint charity.
COUSIN: What, to go there? Is that the matter?
Nay, Everyman, I had rather fast on bread and water
All this five years and more!

KINDRED: Ah, sir, what? Ye be a merry man:
Take good heart to you and make no moan.
But one thing I warn you, by Saint Anne,
As for me, ye shall go alone.
EVERYMAN: My Cousin, will you not with me go?
COUSIN: No, by Our Lady! I have the cramp in my toe….
Cousin Everyman, farewell now,
For verily I will not go with you;
Also of my own an unready reckoning
I have to account—therefore I make tarrying.
Now God keep thee, for now I go.
EVERYMAN: Ah, Jesus, is all come hereto?
Lo, fair words maketh fools glad:
They promise and nothing will do, certain.
My kinsmen promised me faithfully
For to abide with me steadfastly,
And now fast away do they flee.
Even so Fellowship promised me.
What friend were best me of to provide?
I lose my time here longer to abide.

from Everyman, after 1485

This is Part 4 in a series of Sunday segments from this allegory, which I am sharing as much to educate as to entertain. Click here to read previous posts: Part 1: Messenger, Part 2: God, Part 3: Fellowship.

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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