A twelve-page, fill-in-the-blank activity in which your students will analyze the structure and the themes of the great Middle English morality play “Everyman.” The section on structure will examine the beginning episodes of the play which lead to the inciting moment or the problem which faces the protagonist. The middle section of “Everyman,” where the antagonists and complications mount, culminates in the emotional high point or climax of the play.
The last section or denouement manifests the three essentials which according to Aristotle the ending of a great play should have: recognition, reversal, and resolution.
Furthermore, the allegorical nature of “Everyman” is stressed throughout the examination of the play’s structure.
The ensuing section on the themes of “Everyman” concentrates on the major theological points which the unknown author of the play wanted to reinforce in the minds of his medieval audience.
My handout is so designed that your students cannot rely on some internet summary or paraphrase of “Everyman” in order to fill in the blanks since these answers are almost entirely drawn from the text of the play. However, difficult Middle English idioms and sentence constructions are defined or clarified when necessary.
An Answer Key is provided, beginning on a separate page. Also two appendices, “An Introduction to Medieval Drama” and “An Introduction to ‘Everyman’ and Its Use of Allegory” may provide some additional information which you may choose to incorporate into your comments to your class preparatory to its study of the play.
The handout is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.