- an allegorical form of the drama current from the 14th to 16th centuries and employing such personified abstractions as Virtue, Vice, Greed, Gluttony, etc. Cf. miracle play, mystery play.[1925-30]
* * *Allegorical drama of 15th–16th-century Europe.The plays' characters personified moral qualities (such as charity or vice) or abstractions (such as death or youth). One of the main types of vernacular drama of its time, it provided a transition from liturgical drama to professional secular drama. The plays were short works, usually performed by semiprofessional acting troupes that relied on public support. Everyman (с 1495), featuring Everyman's summons by Death and his journey to the grave, is considered the greatest morality play. See also miracle play; mystery play.
* * *▪ dramatic genrealso 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. They were performed by quasi-professional groups of actors who relied on public support; thus the plays were usually short, their serious themes tempered by elements of farce. In the Dutch play Het esbatement den appelboom (“The Miraculous Apple Tree”), for example, a pious couple, Staunch Goodfellow and Steadfast Faith, are rewarded when God creates for them an everbearing apple tree with the property that whoever touches it without permission becomes stuck fast. This leads to predictable and humorous consequences.The most famous of the French morality plays is Nicolas de la Chesnaye's Condemnation des banquets (1507), which argues for moderation by showing the bad end that awaits a company of unrepentant revelers, including Gluttony and Watering Mouth. Among the oldest of morality plays surviving in English is The Castle of Perseverance (c. 1425), about the battle for the soul of Humanum Genus. A plan for the staging of one performance has survived that depicts an outdoor theatre-in-the-round with the castle of the title at the centre. Of all morality plays, the one that is considered the greatest, and that is still performed, is Everyman.
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morality play — Morality plays were popular dramatic entertainments in late medieval England. In contrast with the MYSTERY PLAYS, which retold the universal biblical history of salvation from the Creation of the world to Doomsday, morality plays focused on… … Encyclopedia of medieval literature
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morality play — ► NOUN ▪ a play presenting a moral lesson and having personified qualities as the main characters, popular in the 15th and 16th centuries … English terms dictionary
morality play — n. any of a class of allegorical dramas of the 15th and 16th cent., the characters of which personify abstractions, as Everyman, Vice, Virtue, etc … English World dictionary
Morality play — For the book by Barry Unsworth, see Morality Play (novel). A cover of a sixteenth century doodle Plays, Mundas et Infans The morality play is a genre of Medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment. In their own time, these plays were known… … Wikipedia
morality play — noun an allegorical play popular in the 15th and 16th centuries; characters personified virtues and vices • Hypernyms: ↑play, ↑drama, ↑dramatic play * * * moˈrality play f8 [morality play] noun … Useful english dictionary
morality play — moral′ity play n. lit.+sbz an allegorical drama of the 15th and 16th centuries in which personified virtues, vices, and other abstractions are characters Compare miracle play mystery play • Etymology: 1925–30 … From formal English to slang
Morality play — These 15 16c plays usually had a central, allegorical figure, representing humankind between the personified opposing forces of vice and virtue. There was often a principal comic character. Cf. Miracle play; Mystery play … Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases
morality play — /məˈræləti pleɪ/ (say muh raluhtee play) noun 1. a type of allegorical drama employing personifications of virtues and vices, a form of which was in vogue in Europe from the 14th to the 16th centuries. 2. a play with a moral message … Australian English dictionary
morality play — noun Date: 1879 1. an allegorical play popular especially in the 15th and 16th centuries in which the characters personify abstract qualities or concepts (as virtues, vices, or death) 2. something (as a court trial) which involves a direct… … New Collegiate Dictionary