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October 01, 2005

Good Deeds is stuck...why?

Anonymous, ''Everyman'' -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

Everyman by Anonymous

"Good-Deeds: Here I lie cold in the ground; Thy sins hath me sore bound, That I cannot stir."

Question: Good Deeds was trapped in the ground because Everyman was perfectly able to do good deeds, but chose to ignore them in favor of money, “fleshy lust,” etc.? And now Good Deeds is buried under all those sins? Or was it stuck in the ground because Everyman never did any good deeds in the first place? The first makes more sense to me, but I’m not sure if it's right…

"Death: I am Death, that no man dreadeth.
For every man I rest and no man spareth;
For it is God’s commandment
That all to me should be obedient."

I can imagine this play being very good at scaring people into going to church and behaving themselves (back in the fifteenth century). What do you think?

Posted by Kayla Sawyer at October 1, 2005 10:47 PM


I was a little confused by Good Deeds being trapped in the ground too. I originally though that it was because he had not done very many (if any) good deeds in his life...but then I was expecting that he would go out and do some and then Good Deeds would be un-trapped. But, it was after he went to confession that Good Deeds was able to help him. So I think maybe your explanation that he had committed too many sins makes more sense. Thanks for that. I was really wondering about that too.

And yes, I am sure it was very good at scaring people/strongly encouraging people to go to church and practice Catholicism since it emphasizes confession, communion, and doing good deeds. And does anyone remember when it was that Martin Luther wrote his 95 Thesis? Surely this play was written before then,(I think) but I am curious to know about how long.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at October 2, 2005 12:06 AM

1517. (As always, props to Wikipedia)

I prefer the idea that Everyman had a talent for Good Deeds, but favored sins instead. I'm probably wrong, but oh well...

Posted by: Kayla Sawyer at October 2, 2005 12:24 AM

Scaring people into church, an interesting tactic to use for a loving forgiving realm - is it not?

Interesting thoughts, Kayla.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 2, 2005 07:46 PM

KAyla poses a good question. I feel that the second ansewer was right. I felt that good deeds was trapped in the ground because everyman never did any good deeds. It would be trapped there because he never let the good deeds out, right?

Posted by: Rachel Prichard at October 2, 2005 08:09 PM

Thanks Kayla! So if this play was written late 15th c. than it wasn't too much later that the Protestant Reformation occurred.
Katie, I do think there is some truth in Kayla's comment about people being scared into church, despite "a loving, forgiving realm." Around this time (or shortly thereafter) the Catholic church was in many ways becoming corrupt, and being the dominant religion I could see how a play preaching Catholicism as this one does could be used to almost scare people into going to church.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at October 3, 2005 01:19 AM

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