Some verbal patterns in the <i>Castle of Perseverance</i>


The pure fifteenth and sixteenth century ‘morality play’, of which The Castle of Perseverance is an instance, is far from being the dry ethical study this inaccurate term would suggest. Far more than dealing only with morals it sets out a complete plan of salvation for the individual. Sometimes, as with this play, it will deal with the entire life of one person, his triumphs and failures and eventual attainment to grace; occasionally it will touch upon the most dramatic event in that life, namely the approach of death. Hence the leading character is normally a figure of mankind, bearing a name such as Everyman or Humanum Genus, and he is surrounded by crowds of good and evil characters who allegorically portray the various influences on him. The intent of such plays is avowedly didactic and theological; one might term them dramatized sermons, though not with complete accuracy. In the sixteenth century the original purpose of these plays is rather lost sight of, and secularized ‘moralities’ appear, portraying social or political ideals such as good government.

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