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messages of morality

            Allegory is a product of a metaphor predominant in medieval morality plays, in which objects and persons within a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The allegorical figure exists simultaneously on two levels of meaning "the literal one or what the figure does in the narrative, and the symbolic level, what the figure stands for, outside the narrative; thus evoking a dual interest in 1) the events, characters and setting; and 2) the ideas they represent or the significance they bear. Allegorical thinking was derived from the medieval faith that everything in the world had a moral meaning, and frequently, but not always, these moralities were concerned with matters of great significance such as life vs. death; damnation vs. salvation; and social or personal morality vs. immorality. The predicament of presenting these ideas efficiently and without confusion has determined the structure of the morality in which the use of allegory was meant to dramatize the moral struggle and reveal the essence of what was being portrayed. .
             Through the use of allegory, playwrights were able to achieve a superior level of moral reasoning by naming the characters in accordance to the virtue in which they were meant to represent. The use of allegory was held in reserve for a literate audience, and in the Middle Ages this meant the nobility and clerks. Morality plays spoke to medieval man's anxiety about being prepared for death without delving into the depths of Biblical history; they simply focus on the time span of one human life as he faces the temptations of the world. Morality plays offered a word of warning to the gullible that their souls are always in jeopardy, that the devil is on unfailing guard, and that people must behave by the book if they are to be saved, but Everyman far surpasses that exceedingly basic moral message of: "Do good deeds and you will be saved.

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