So this is a review of Mankind, author unknown. This is the second of the uni books I’ve reviewed, and hopefully, this one will be quite a bit shorter than the first one! Spoilers to come, so beware.
I definitely have less to say about this one, perhaps because I found it less interesting? (How that’s possible given how disinterested I was in Utopia, but there you go…) Although I will say that G. A. Lesters’ commentary was enlightening and very helpful in understanding the general idea of the Morality Plays as a whole.
The Morality Play… ‘[is a] dramatization of a spiritual crisis in the life of a representative mankind figure in which his spiritual struggle is portrayed as a conflict between personified abstractions representing good and evil.’ (Bevington, Medieval Drama, 1975, p. 792)
Mankind clearly follows this definition of a Morality Play. Mankind, the human element of the play is, at the beginning, stedfast in his belief of God and is a good Christian man. When the enemies of Mankind are revealed, ‘the Devil, the World, the Flesh’, he is tested and ultimately fails. The play ends as Mankind is about to kill himself in anguish over his bad deeds, when the Mercy of God comes to save him.
The characters in this play are: Mercy, the loving and caring father of Mankind; Mankind, literally a representation of mankind; Mischief, which is pretty self explanatory, but is also characterised as the ‘mother’ of worldly evils, (basically the whole ‘women cause men tons of problems thing again). Then there are the worldly evils: New Guise, representing the lure of material possession; Nowadays, who presumably represents the break-down of tradition or the ‘old ways’, not much has changed really; and Nought, who represents idleness.
Finally, there is Titivillus. Titivillus is a demon of sorts ‘whose duties included the recording of whispers, lies, false oaths, and idle talk’. He represents the lure of the Devil, who appeals to spiritual rather than physical weakness. As Mankind succumbs to spiritual weakness, physical weakness can also enter, and thus Mankind is taken in by the lure of the Flesh.
The play serves to demonstrate the ways in which man can be seduced from the path of righteousness and away from salvation. Following the Catholic ideology that salvation was possible, that God was ever Merciful, this play seeks to show that although one should stick to the precepts of Christianity, any wrong-doings will be forgiven of those who repent.
On the whole, it’s really just another example of how the church attempted to coerce people into following the rules that they had laid out. But that’s none of my business…
Anyway! This play is yet another boring one, but I’m reading H.G Wells’ The Time Machine next, which promises to be much more interesting!
’til next time, readers, much love!