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Everyman, Material Goods and Salvation - Research Paper Example

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Everyman, Material Goods and Salvation

Medieval society, which was largely agrarian and feudal, was quickly eroding, and many traditional structures were eroding with it. Classes were changing rapidly, with a growing burgher, mercantile middle class concentrating more and more wealth in their own hands, while nobles power was slowly decreasing and the life of the peasant was slowly becoming more monetary, relying on taking goods to market and so forth (Rainguard 68), rather than existing primarily through subsistence agriculture. Similarly, the church was in the early stages of upheaval over money itself: Martin Luther composed his famous theses almost simultaneously with the construction of this text, and the protestant reformation started in Germany around the same era, all over the monetization of Church goods through the selling of indulgences and other actions to bring money into the church (Crownston 19). In many ways this time was mirrored by the times in which the bible was composed: then too there was a great deal of social upheaval, with the Romans having recently gained control of the Levant and with the second temple being relatively newly constructed. It is thus unsurprising that there are significant parallels between the structures Everyman shares significant parallels with the bible. ...
Probably the most significant change was the role of towns. Towns had always existed in England, and one could argue were essentially perpetually growing until the time of the black death (Esser 67), where they suffered significant decreases in population, obviously. The boom that followed the black death, however, led to one of the greatest mass migrations of people into towns ever. Peasants who rented from their lord (IE were not serfs and thus owned by the lord) could often find better livings in towns, as well as greater protection of the law (not being at the whim of a local lord), and increased economic freedom (Esser 69). They had greater chances to acquire wealth on a large scale, and thus become prosperous. This meant that a growing amount of the population lived in a monetary society, where money was the basis of living instead of goods. This was a drastic shift from a few centuries earlier, when even rent was paid using goods such as livestock or grains. Another of the greatest changes was the role of goods. Though industrialization was certainly not yet occurring, early stages of changes in manufacturing were. Instead of one person making a finished product (a shoe, for instance), during this time period, there began to be greater specialization – one person might make the sole, while the other made the laces and so forth. Each of these specialized crafts was then set up into a guild (Richardson 150), which controlled the membership of that producing class. This combined with a spike in international trade to (Richardson 161) to lead to the growing and increasingly wealthy mercantile class. This class was not bound by the moral ...Show more


Your Name Prof’s Name Date Everyman, Material Goods and Salvation Everyman was a morality play composed around the turn of the 16th century, which details the plight of “everyman” (who, obviously, is supposed to represent all of humanity) in attempting to achieve salvation in a world full of temptation…
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