Beowulf vs. Everyman
The plays Beowulf and Everyman are two plays that were written to tell great stories and dictate morality to the readers. Each of the two poems tells a story with many examples of religion very evident in them. Stories from early times like these tell historians about the history of the people of the story?s original land. In these cases historians are able to tell the approximate dates of the literature by references made by the author and the style of writing. For example, in Beowulf there are signs that Christianity has influenced the author of the poem. By reading the poem you see that there are many instances where the writer refers to God and religion finding that Christianity has already been introduced by the time it was written. Findings like these are beneficial to us because they tell us about the level of education and background of the people of the time. Beowulf and Everyman have many similarities and differences in them by which they can be compared and contrasted to each other.
Everyman is a poem believed to be written in the late fifteen hundreds. In this poem the main character, Everyman, has been sentenced to death by his maker and calls on his friends to walk with him to his death. In the process of death God calls on Death and gives him the orders to carry out the sentence and go find Everyman. Everyman struggles in finding people who will accompany him with his walk so he calls on nine friends: Fellowship, Kindred & Cousin, Goods, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, Five Wits, and Knowledge. In this journey Everyman finds that not one of his friends are willing to stick with him to the end. In his journey Everyman discovers that many will promise to stand by him and make this journey but in the end only one will honor his promise and complete the journey. All betray Everyman during his journey to his death one by one in succession. At the time of death Everyman is left with only his good deeds.
The point that the author tries to get across is that Everyman is you. This was written to create a moral tale of mankind telling the reader of friendship, companionship, and betrayal. Everyman viewed his life as being his own and was astonished to hear that it was lent to him to use. Being told this by Death was astonishing to Everyman and he pleaded on his deathbed to his fortune bearer. With reasoning Death gave him one pardon of a little while to reckon with himself and stated that he would return soon to claim him, and Everyman?s request of twelve days was ignored.
The play Everyman is an allegory because it uses its secondary characters to form a secondary meaning. The secondary meaning of the story was that you could not count on others in your time of need. In this tale Everyman finds his self worth and learns to correctly judge what matters in his situation. By learning his own self worth Everyman was able to accept death with nothing more than his good deeds. This tale tells the reader that in the end of your life you only go with your good deeds and you are remembered for them.
Beowulf on the other hand is a story of a hero who conquers evil monsters for the good of man. Beowulf is portrayed as an unselfish hero who fights and conquers for the good of man and for the benefit of his king. In the time of Beowulf it was natural to spend your life for the honor of fighting for the king and that is what many did. Living in a warrior?s world, Beowulf was a champion and hero for his people. Through self-endangering acts Beowulf grew recognition with the people as an undoubted hero of the land.
Beowulf and Everyman although different in plot and meaning use similar writing techniques. Both stories use one main character in which the focus of the story is based. Beowulf and Everyman are heroes in their own ways and in their own cultures. Everyman is a hero of humanity who accomplishes this by being able to accept death virtually alone. In both Beowulf and Everyman they see themselves as normal but see it their duty to fight evil and take callings from God. By telling of a story about a man who takes his fate so bravely makes him an example to the readers. This is the same for Beowulf who creates a tremendous amount of self worth for himself and his people. These poems which both originated for oral tradition were a source for morals and virtue for society.
Allegoric writing like these two examples was used to convey a message other to the obvious plot in the story. In Everyman allegoric characters are used to explain the second meaning. Fellowship, Kindred & Cousin, Goods, Beauty, Strength, Discretion, Five Wits, and Knowledge are used to show how Everyman is left alone by the common things that he has learned to depend on in life. In Beowulf Grendel is used to tie the biblical times into the story. In the poem Grendel is told to be an ancestor of Cain who is symbolic of evil. Allegoric writing is complicated to understand and both stories are great examples of such writing.
Another important similarity between Beowulf and Everyman is that both characters die in the end and teach a lesson of fate. Both characters did not expect to die and did not see it as their time to do so. With Beowulf the people of the land were not ready to loose him and felt that in sequence to the death of the hero they would fall upon troubling times full of battles and tragedy. Without their hero they were sure to be doomed. Everyman on the other hand I would not see as causing a big impact with his departure. This was more of a single person?s loss of life in respect to fate and God.
Comparing two great works like Beowulf and Everyman is a questionable task. For every similarity there are definite differences between the opinions from one person to another. The comparison between the two solely depends on the thoughts and experiences of the individual comparing the two. In my eyes I see the two very alike in meaning and vary more in the style of writing. The style of writing of the two varies in many ways. In Beowulf there are no rhyming lines but the author uses more literary terms than in Everyman where everything rhymes and is relatively simple in writing.