MERCY: Wyrschepyll sofereyns, I have do my propirté:
Mankynd ys deliveryd by my faverall patrocynye.
God preserve hym fro all wyckyd captivité
And send hym grace hys sensuall condicions to mortifye!
Now for Hys love that for us receyvyd hys humanité,
Serge your condicyons wyth dew examinacion.
Thynke and remembyr the world ys but a vanité.Mankind 903–9
At the close of the play Mankind, performed during the Shrovetide of 1471, the character Mercy explicitly conflated the play world and the real world by entreating the provincial audience, with the lines above, to examine their personal moralities. Since the performance had come to its end and Mercy had completed his task of delivering the play's eponymous protagonist, Mankind, from eternal damnation, all that was left to do was to remind the audience that they needed to apply this exemplar to their own moral ‘condicyons’ (Mankind 908). They must search and examine themselves, think and remember that the world they lived in was as full of ‘vanité’ (Mankind 909) as the allegorical play world in which they had just been immersed. Scholars have suggested that the play was performed either in a guildhall or in a church; certainly this performance took place somewhere in East Anglia close to either Bishop's Lynn or Cambridge, and it was thus to this real-world context that Mercy gestured when, with his final lines, he elided drama and reality.
The epilogue above is just one example of the play's distinctive ability to make its audience complicit in the action of the drama by bridging the divide between the play world and the real world; other well-known examples include the Christmas song and the request for payment from the audience for the devil, Titivillus, to appear. However, Mercy's closing remarks, like so many other moments in the play, reward closer inspection, for they may be making a more pointed accusation than at first appears. If, as many scholars have noted, the play's often-quoted line ‘O ye soverens that sytt and ye brothern that stonde ryght uppe’ (Mankind 29) distinguishes between the different social statuses of groups in the audience based on their locations in the playing space, then it is significant that Mercy's final speech is addressed solely to the ‘wyrschepyll sofereyns’ (Mankind 903).