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Morality plays


  • Late medieval allegorical plays that teach moral lessons by depicting the battle between good and evil in the human soul.

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  • Form

    • Morality plays
  • Variants

    • Morality drama
  • Broader Terms

  • Closely Matching Concepts from Other Schemes

  • Sources

    • found: Britannica online, Oct. 27, 2012(morality play, also called morality, an allegorical drama popular in Europe especially during the 15th and 16th centuries, in which the characters personify moral qualities (such as charity or vice) or abstractions (as death or youth) and in which moral lessons are taught. Together with the mystery play and the miracle play, the morality play is one of the three main types of vernacular drama produced during the Middle Ages. The action of the morality play centres on a hero, such as Mankind, whose inherent weaknesses are assaulted by such personified diabolic forces as the Seven Deadly Sins but who may choose redemption and enlist the aid of such figures as the Four Daughters of God (Mercy, Justice, Temperance, and Truth). Morality plays were an intermediate step in the transition from liturgical to professional secular drama, and combine elements of each.)
    • found: Cuddon, J.A. A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory, 1998(Morality Play. Basically, a Morality Play is an allegory in dramatic form. Its dramatic origins are to be found in the Mystery and Miracle Plays of the late Middle Ages; its allegorical origins in the sermon literature, homilies, exempla, romances and works of spiritual edification. In essence a Morality Play was a dramatization of the battle between the forces of good and evil in the human soul. The long-term influence of the Moralities is discernible in the pageant and masque)
    • found: Wilson, E. The theater experience, c2004, via McGraw-Hill Higher Education online learning center, Nov. 14, 2012:glossary (Morality play: Medieval drama designed to teach a lesson. The characters were often allegorical and represented virtues or faults, such as good deeds, friendship, or avarice. The most famous example is Everyman.)
    • found: Baldick, C. The Oxford dictionary of literary terms, 2008(A kind of religious drama popular in England, Scotland, France, and elsewhere in Europe in the 15th and early 16th centuries. Morality plays are dramatized allegories, in which personified virtues, vices, diseases, and temptations struggle for the soul of Man as he travels from birth to death. They instill a simple message of Christian salvation, but often include comic scenes; most are anonymous; earliest surviving example in English is Castle of Perseverance (c.1420), and the best-known is Everyman (c.1510))
    • found: McGraw-Hill encyc. of world drama, c1972(Morality Play. Late medieval religious drama, performed on a stage in the vernacular, that served a didactic intent, the commendation to the viewing public of a morally upright life. Two main themes: the struggle between the forces of good and evil, each personified and named for the particular virtue or vice it represents, for the salvation or the damnation of man's soul at the moment of death; the depiction of the ages of man, each of which is fraught with the perils of immortality. Usually the presentation is allegorical, and the protagonist is a character symbolic of all of mankind.)
  • General Notes

    • Late medieval allegorical plays that teach moral lessons by depicting the battle between good and evil in the human soul.
  • Change Notes

    • 2014-12-01: new
    • 2015-12-22: revised
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