The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Everyman (c. 1509-19) is a morality play.

Everyman is derived from a 921 line long Flemish play called Elckerlijc written by Petrus van Diest in the second half of the 15th century. It was widely translated, and the English translation became Everyman, which is now world famous.

Everyman, an allegorical figure of the human race, is summoned by the allegorical figure of death. He discovers that his friends Fellowship, Kindred, Cousin, and Goods will not go with him. It is Good Deeds (or Virtue), whom he previously neglected, who finally supports him and who offers to justify him before the throne of God. Lines from this play provided the inspiration for the name of the popular literature series Everyman's Library.

Another well-known version of the play is Jedermann by the Austrian playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which has been performed annually at the Salzburg Festival since 1920.

In literature and drama, the term "everyman" has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances.

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