morality play


Definition of morality play

1 : an allegorical play popular especially in the 15th and 16th centuries in which the characters personify abstract qualities or concepts (such as virtues, vices, or death)
2 : something (such as a court trial) which involves a direct conflict between right and wrong or good and evil and from which a moral lesson may be drawn

Examples of morality play in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Jayson's encounter with the school's disciplinary measures seems more like a morality play than anything that has to do with him or Owen as characters. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "Review: 'Grand Army' is an ambitious but imperfect teen drama, as Netflix seeks its own 'Euphoria'," 16 Oct. 2020 In America’s racial morality play, the brutal officer with a badge using disproportionate and deadly force on an unarmed black man is a familiar character. Gary Younge, The New York Review of Books, "The Bleak Resonance of ‘Native Son’," 1 Oct. 2020 This series isn’t LeBron vs. Riley, like some morality play of Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde: LeBron learned his lessons from Riley — and wants to show some this Finals | Commentary," 29 Sep. 2020 The prospect of child care re-opening turns a basic, beneficial need into a morality play with too many monologues and hand-wringing. Pete Croatto, Good Housekeeping, "Paying for Childcare During a Pandemic Puts Parents in an Impossible Position," 4 June 2020 And the director Mary Zimmerman’s inventive production conveys the right mix of whimsical fairy tale and disturbing morality play through a simple, colorful staging, with sets by Daniel Ostling and costumes by Ana Kuzmanic. New York Times, "Review: ‘Eurydice,’ a New Opera, Looks Back All Too Tamely," 3 Feb. 2020 As the finale of the series approaches, the whodunit mystery of (spoiler!) who killed Ghost has been the main focus, and there’s tension as to whether the death of the cherished main character is a tragedy or a morality play. Christopher Harris, Washington Post, "‘Power’ is ending. Here’s how Starz’s most-watched series began.," 31 Jan. 2020 If there’s no real nuance in these depictions, that’s because this is a morality play, almost a fable. Rumaan Alam, The New Republic, "In Les Misérables, the Song Remains the Same," 15 Jan. 2020 In the final five episodes, Servant descends into farce, a kind of opposite-day Mary Poppins morality play. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "What Makes Apple TV+’s Servant So Callous," 28 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'morality play.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of morality play

1866, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of morality play was in 1866

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Cite this Entry

“Morality play.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

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