Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > The Early Religious Drama > Mind, Will and Understanding
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

III. The Early Religious Drama.

§ 21. Mind, Will and Understanding.


In the morality to which modern editors give the title Mind, Will and Understanding, there reigns more of the subtle scholastic spirit; here, it is not a single representative of humanity who is courted by allegorical figures, but the three mental faculties which give the piece its title appear, each one by itself. Besides them, Anima appears as a distinct character, first in a white robe, then, after the three faculties of the soul have been tempted astray, “in a most horrible guise, uglier than a devil.” Another fragment of morality has been preserved to which the title The Pride of Life has been given; the MS. seems to belong to the first half of the fifteenth century; here, the typical representative of humanity is a king who, putting full trust in his knights Strength and Health, will not think of death and things beyond the grave, although his queen and a pious bishop try to move his conscience; he considers that he still has time to turn pious, the church will not run away from him. As appears from the prologue, the portion of the play which is lost was to show how the king, in the fulness of his sin, is called away by death, and how devils are about to take his soul; but, at this point, the Mother of God was to intercede with her prayers and to point out to the Judge of the world that the body, not the soul, was the really guilty part. Thus, it was intended to weave into the texture of the play one of those debates between body and soul that had been a widely popular subject in medieval literature.   29

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  Mankynd Everyman  
 
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