A development of the miracle plays. In the moralities the matter was allegorical rather than historical and its object was ethical, the cultivation of Christian character. Abstract ideas were substituted for human personalities of the Bible or legendary narrative. These abstractions were represented as human beings on the stage; in many moralities the characters were not all abstract qualities; there were angels and devils, priests, doctors, and the fool, under various names, usually that of the “Vice.” Four main plots were used in the earlier moralities and the versification was constantly varied. Later there appeared a modified morality, or interlude, dealing with portions only of a man’s life and limiting the ethical teaching to warnings against sin or exhortations to learning and study. This transformed morality takes its place as one of the threads which went to make up the wondrous web of the Elizabethan drama.

MLA Citation

  • “moralities”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 7 October 2012. Web. 15 June 2021. <>