Introduction: the first and third type. Long monologues


I selected two plays for comparison the first 1 is English play of Everyman is written by Petrus Dorlandus and the second play Homulus is written by David H. Keller, M.D. Homulus cannot be perceived as a translation of Everyman in the modern sense of the word. It is because there are substantial differences between the two texts on all the important levels, which can serve as a basis for a literary analysis, namely in the composition and plot of the two plays, in the use of linguistic and stylistic devices, or in the employment of characters and various literary motifs.

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Profound changes occur on the structural level in the play of Homulus in comparison with Everyman. Not only is the Latin version almost twice as long as the English original, but it is also handled more carefully from the perspective of structural division. Furthermore, the proportion of monologue and dialogue differs in the scope of the whole texts, as well as the character of monological and dialogical passages. Obviously, the content of the former was reworked by Ischyrius, and various changes were done in comparison with the original, one of them being the re-composition and restructuring of the original text. While the play script of Everyman.

One important difference in the structures of the two plays is the distribution of verses among the particular characters, or the proportion of monologues and dialogues in the two plays. For the purpose of the comparison, three basic types of speech will be indicated: (1) long speech (or monologue, more than twenty-five lines), (2) short speech (from four to twenty-five lines), and (3) stichomythia (passage of one- or two-lines long replicas). In Everyman, the type of speech most frequently used is the second type, which constitutes approximately two thirds of the whole text, while the remaining third is divided equally between the first and third type. Long monologues are scarcely used there, with the exception of the opening speech of Messenger and God, and the concluding monologue of Doctor, which serve as a source of background information and their considerable length is, thus, understandable. Stichomythia, on the other hand, is used similarly to its employment in classical plays as an expression of a quick, excited exchange, such as in the discussion between the personified Virtues  and Everyman.

In Homulus, however, the proportion of the three types of speech is slightly different from that of Everyman, namely in the amount of stichomythia and number of monologues employed. In comparison with the text of Everyman, stichomythia is used more often, which is caused by the fact that more short excited talks occur between the characters in this play than in the former. This again could come from the fact that more characters meet Everyman on his journey to death; therefore there are more occasions for discussion. Similarly, more acting characters provide more opportunities for longer speeches; the more that the extra characters are predominantly the personified virtues who tend to utter universal, therefore more extended speeches.

As for the plot, it seems that the one of Everyman is the basic pattern which was only extended and adapted by the author of Homulus. The layout is the same for the both plays and contains the same crucial points, although Homulus contains some extra situations independent of the text of Everyman. At the beginning of both plays, prologue is delivered by a character called Messenger in Everyman but untitled in Homulus. However, each of them serves a slightly different purpose in the context of the particular play, as will be discussed later. Presently, it is enough to say that while the prologue of Homulus gives the full account of the plotline of the play that of Everyman merely draws out the main objective of the play, which is to counsel everyman to live a pious live and remember the death. In addition, both strive to win the attention of the audience, which was an obvious and indispensable aim of every prologue of a medieval play, taking into consideration the conditions of the performances.

The character of God then appears and complains about the foolishness and corruption of a man. Finally, he decides to ask Everyman to submit to him a reckoning of his good and bad deeds, and prepare to come forward to the index eternus, meaning to die. God summons Death to convey his decision to Everyman, which he willingly obeys, and Everyman enters only to meet him and receive the message. Having delivered the message, Death commands Everyman to summon his reckoning and follow him to God. Everyman tries to persuade him to give him more time to prepare his reckoning, which he fiercely refuses. He then tries to bribe him and when he fails, he at least wants to know whether he could come back again.

The number of characters is another important difference between the two plays. Since the length of the plays is different, the number of acting persons expectedly increases. Nevertheless, the number of characters in Homulus is almost doubled in comparison with that of Everyman, which seems suspicious; taking into consideration the disparity in the number of verses is by no means that prominent. It would be too bold to speculate about the reasons why Ischyrius almost doubled the number of dramatis personae. It could have been connected to the fact that he wanted to engage more actors in the performance.


The two texts bear too many differences concerning their structure, style and motives to call Homulus simply a translation of Everyman. . It would be more appropriate, from the today’s perspective, to call it an adaptation because of the number of changes in the translated text in comparison with the original. The act of translation was, therefore, not urged simply by the need of having the play of Everyman available in Latin (still more universal to the general readership), but by demand for a piece of literature that would conveniently transfer certain ideas Ischyrius had in mind and considered worth telling. The aim of a literary critic studying the text is, consequently, that of analyzing the similarities and differences between the two plays and providing plausible explanations for their occurrence.


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