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morality play

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 Everyman. See miracle play.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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