The primary lesson in The Summoning of Everyman is that the only aspect of life to accompany a person in death is their ledger of good deeds. The play symbolizes Good Deeds as a person, along with several other aspects of Everyman’s life, who represents his interactions with each as if recounting a personal relationship. In the Christian framework of this play, the characters serve to demonstrate that commonly misplaced values will ultimately be useless or even harmful to a person when they are called before God for judgement. For example, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, and Wits are revealed to dissipate with age while Knowledge cannot make the trip past life’s end. Relationships with people as represented by Fellowship, Kindred, and Cousin demonstrate that they are in the same situation as Everyman and cannot aid him without letting their own ledgers suffer, thus showing them to be unreliable in death. However, no factor is as obviously negative as Everyman’s relationship with Goods. The play begins with God openly upset about the reliance of mankind on material objects. This displeasure is the motivation for the summoning of Everyman to judgement through Death. Everyman learns that bringing Goods on his journey would only make the situation worse by emphasizing his lack of charity in life. Though Good Deeds is the only character available to strengthen Everyman’s case before God, there is another that is vital to the cause by providing the energy to survive the journey and to be a significant factor upon their arrival at the judgement. Everyman had not established a strong relationship with Good Deeds through his life, and thus required the absolution available by begging for Penance in the presence of Confession. Doing so allowed Confession to declare Everyman absolved and greatly boosted the impact of Good Deeds as a ledger component
As a standard morality tale, Everyman is still easily relatable to Christian values and should be clearly interpreted as a warning against materialism in combination with the promotion of charitable acts as vital components of the faith. The use of allegorical characters remains an effective means of conveying these and other important messages within the play. Materialism is perhaps more prominent of a moral issue today than it has ever been, and this piece presents the issue in a uniquely Christian manner by contrasting the matter with the impact of good deeds during judgement by God. Also, the often misunderstood role of confession and penance in the religion is perfectly demonstrated in this work, giving it an enduring quality of relevance that stands out among the wealth of complex religious adaptations found throughout the history of performance art. However, one of the emerging topics in all of academia is the need to use a multicultural perspective when forming current and future hypotheses. This issue has arisen as the world continues to undergo a mixing of cultures that is changing the nature of previously assumed standards based on ethnocentric perspectives. Accordingly, it is necessary to consider the contemporary effectiveness of Everyman in delivering traditionally Christian values to the modern multicultural society. An immediately noticeable concern from this viewpoint is that the notion of discounting other people in the assessment of personal value through judgement or any other form is in direct conflict with the ideas held by most collectivist cultures. However, the importance of good deeds is perfectly in tune with collectivist values. This inconsistency could pose a threat to the widespread impact of this work or it could motivate the viewer to more closely inspect the particular Christian views that underlie the apparent discord and may actually lead to a better understanding of the religion.