morality play

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Related to Morality plays: Miracle Plays

morality play,

form of medieval drama that developed in the late 14th cent. and flourished through the 16th cent. The characters in the morality were personifications of good and evil usually involved in a struggle for a man's soul. The form was generally static, but it contributed significantly to the secularization of European drama. The first known moralities were called the Paternoster plays. The greatest English morality is EverymanEveryman,
late-15th-century English morality play. It is the counterpart of the Dutch play Elckerlijk; which of these anonymous plays is the original has been the subject of controversy.
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. See miracle playmiracle play
or mystery play,
form of medieval drama that came from dramatization of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. It developed from the 10th to the 16th cent., reaching its height in the 15th cent.
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Morality Play


an edifying form of Western European drama of the 15th and 16th centuries. The morality play originated in France (The Wise Man and the Foolish Man [Bien avise, mal avise], 1436). Among the most famous examples of this form are Everyman, an English play adapted from a late 15th-century Dutch play; the Swiss play Man, the Sinner (L’Homme pecheur); and the Italian play The Comedy of the Soul (La Commedia delVanima). The principal characters of a morality play are allegorical figures who personify the forces of good and evil and interact in the struggle for a human soul.

Although the morality plays, like the mystery plays, preached Christian morality, they did not have religious plots. They contained elements of antifeudal criticism, and in certain instances, motifs of social satire. Historically significant because they rein-forced the abstract principle of typification, morality plays also conveyed the outlines of various human passions by approximating the situations and conflicts of real life. Morality plays were usually presented on primitive stages featuring “booths” depicting various scenes, but in Paris, for example, they were also performed on the stage of the Hotel de Bourgogne.


Dzhivelegov, A., and G. Boiadzhiev. Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra. Moscow, 1941.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 1. Editor in chief S. S. Mokul’-skii. Moscow, 1956.

morality play

a type of drama written between the 14th and 16th centuries concerned with the conflict between personified virtues and vices
References in periodicals archive ?
As characters do so often in morality plays, Envy here insists that he is wholly defined by his 'property' of envy.
Furthermore, liturgical dramas, passion plays, and morality plays seem to have developed simultaneously rather than sequentially, which would appear to discredit an evolutionary approach to looking at medieval drama.
Flattered by his soldiers Fortitudo and Sanitas, the two characters which are the closest to the characters of the Vices in the later Morality Plays, Rex is fully submerged in the kind of social vices the soldiers represent.
For nine years, Ferguson's Assemblies of God church in Cedar Hill, Texas, has staged "Hell House," a series of morality plays that, says Ferguson, show how sin leads to "a real place called hell.
From Mankind to Marlowe (and slightly beyond), Janette Dillon follows the trajectory of Bevington's study of morality plays and their Tudor heirs, but with a lens widened to take in mystery cycles and then focused on how plays stage variously the relations between English and other languages in response to cultural change, especially in religious practices.
Still the deepest appeal of Westerns probably flows from the fact that these horse operas were largely morality plays defending the status quo.
These episodes resemble the low-brow morality plays of professional wrestling.
By the same token, the structure of the narrative, with its use of Christian stories of redemption, whether those of Christ himself or those found in morality plays, is full of irony, an irony both bitter and humorous, tragic and comedic.
One of his regional English novels, Morality Play (1995), a tightly organized murder mystery, concerns a troupe of dramatic players who tour northern England in the fourteenth century performing morality plays for their living.
Children from Hexham's Middle School laid on morality plays yesterday, using masks made especially for the event.
Morality plays, especially Mankind, continue to address large groups.