Two Sides Of Humanity Essay, Research Paper
The Two Sides of Humanity
The journey of life is like an endless highway. Any number of obstacles could be waiting over the next hill. Fortunately, we may choose our own paths just as we can make our own choices in life. Just as a map provides directions during an excursion, there is a divine guide that provides a map for humanity. For each of us are the administrators of our own destinies. The choice is ours. Thus, in the play Everyman, author unknown, the main character Everyman represents humanity and takes us on his journey through life the same as Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, the main character Dr. Faustus takes us along his expedition in life. These individuals represent the two sides of humanity. They each face death and their souls must pay for their past life. Each chose a different direction and now must pay the consequences for those choices. Hence, both men are driven by hubris except for each man travels a separate path towards their destiny.
Everyman and Dr. Faustus are both driven towards power and success. The differences between them are the elements that are the force behind each. Dr. Faustus thrives on the pursuit for knowledge. He is exhilarated by education. This pursuit is equivalent to an addiction for Dr. Faustus. For instance, he studies literature, law and medicine. But this is not enough; boredom settles in and Dr. Faustus begins to search for
the ultimate power – magic. As Dr. Faustus becomes excited over this prospect, he states, “O what a world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor, of omnipotence, Is promised to the studious artisan! All things that move between the quiet poles Shall be at my command.” Dr Faustus continues by saying, “Emperors and kings Are but obeyed in their several provinces, Nor can they raise the wind or rend the clouds; But his dominion that exceeds in this Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man. A sound magician is a demigod: Here tire my brains to gain a deity!” (2675). Dr. Faustus believes he has reached the pinnacle of his search for knowledge. In comparison, Everyman is driven by wealth. This quest soon becomes his demise. Death, by Gods request, searches out Everyman and tells him he has erred because of his greed. God states, “Every man liveth so after his own pleasure ” (2036). He continues by saying, “They be so cumbered with worldly riches That needs on them I must do justice – On every man living without fear” (2036). Everyman refuses to see he has chosen the wrong path. Even though Death is at his door he states, “In thy power it lieth me to save: Yet of my food will I give thee, if thou will be kind, Yea, a thousand pound shall thou have – And defer this matter till another day” (2037). Everyman refuses to see the error of his ways and believes money can buy him anything, even his life. Unfortunately, this is not so. As noted, Dr. Faustus and Everyman are blinded by their pompous natures. Both search for worldly treasures, knowledge and wealth, instead of a relationship with the divine.
Each character is also provided with encouragement in choosing the divine path. A good and bad angel provides guidance to Dr. Faustus. The path he takes is his choice alone. Unfortunately, due to greed and power, Dr. Faustus only listens to the bad angel. The good angel tells him, “O Faustus, lay that damned book aside And gaze not on it, lest it temp thy soul And heap God’s heavy wrath upon thy head. Read, read the Scriptures!”
(2675). As illustrated, the good angel is not telling Dr. Faustus what he wants to hear. Therefore, Dr. Faustus listens to the bad angel. For instance, the bad angel states, “Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art Wherein all nature’s treasury is contained: Be thou on earth, as Jove is in the sky, Lord and commander of these elements” (2675). Because the bad angel tells Dr. Faustus what he wants to hear, he is invigorated by the power. Dr. Faustus chooses to sell his soul for this knowledge, knowing he will spend eternity with Lucifer for this choice. Instead of fearing Lucifer, he worships him. In contrast, Everyman fears his journey and searches for support from others as he faces death. He wants to follow the path to God, but is afraid because of his past sins. He soon finds out that his wealth bought him friends, but now that he needs support, there is no one there for him. Thus, he learns that money cannot buy everything. He states, “In prosperity men friends may find Which in adversity be full unkind” (2042). Everyman continues to beg for help. He turns to Goods. Goods replies, “I lie here in corners, trussed and piled so high, And in chests I am locked so fast – Also sacked in bags – …” (2043). Goods symbolizes Everyman’s money. Everyman does not understand why Goods refuses to assist him. Everyman states, “For it is said ever among That money maketh all right that is wrong” (2044). Even when faced by death, Everyman still holds on to the belief that money will save him. Goods tries to help Everyman see his sins and states, “That is to thy damnation, without leasing, For my love is contrary to the love everlasting. But if thou had me loved moderately during, As to the poor to give part of me, Then shouldest thou not in this dolor be, Nor in this great sorrow and care” (2044). As Everyman soon realizes, the guides he lived by were superficial. In times of great need, humanity should look towards the heavens to lighten the soul.
As humanity continues the journey for fulfillment, the paths taken soon split. Dr. Faustus chooses to live in sin whereas Everyman chooses the path towards forgiveness. This is where the similarity between the two ends. Dr. Faustus began life as a renowned scholar and worshiped God. Because of his desire for knowledge, he strayed from the path and chose a life of doom. Everyman began his journey worshipping wealth and success and not looking towards God for direction. Even so, Everyman is provided the choice to repent and take the path to heaven. Eventually, he realizes his mistakes along the journey and begs for forgiveness. Luckily, there are divine guides along the way to help humanity back on the right road. The decision is solely the individuals.
Again, because both men were overcome with hubris they were driven by their need to be valued, one for knowledge the other for wealth. This pride was the demise of one side of humanity and the awakening of the other side. For instance, on one side there is Dr. Faustus. He is consumed by his need for power and knowledge. Selling his soul to Lucifer is only a small price to pay. However, in the end he realizes his mistakes. Instead of his soul spending eternity blissfully in heaven, his must ” live still to be plagued in hell” (2721). Because he lusted for more than mortality could offer, this once admired scholar burns in hell for his choices. On the other side of humanity is Everyman. This once greedy and selfish part of humanity soon realizes the mistake of overlooking the needy and serving God. Because of the realizations throughout the excursion, Everyman repents and chooses the path to God. This is not an easy feat for breaking the chain is hard and Everyman continues to slip along the journey. Even so, God opens his arms to Everyman. In the end Everyman states, “Into thy hands, Lord, my soul I commend ” (2054). Humanities relationship to the divine is riddled by back roads and main thoroughfares. The destiny of the soul is based exclusively on the guides that are chosen. For all humanity has a choice to make in life. Is the soul to burn in hell for worldly possessions or is it offered to the heavens for eternal happiness?
Everyman. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Mack, Maynard, Vol. 1,
New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. 2033-2055.
Marlowe, Christopher. Dr. Faustus. The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. Ed. Mack, Maynard, Vol. 1, New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. 2672-2722.