The garment of sorrow, given to Everyman by Knowledge, represents contrition. According to Knowledge, wearing the garment (or showing contrition) “getteth forgiveness” and “pleaseth God passing well.” As the garment signifies Everyman’s repentance for his sins, it is an integral part of the sacrament of penance, which is one of the last rites in Catholic theology. The sorrow represented by the garment is distinctly different from the sorrow Everyman experiences in the first half of the play. Whereas previously, Everyman’s sorrow was one of despair for his impending departure from the material world and the abandonment of his materialistic friends, now his sorrow is one of remorse for his sins and for forsaking God in favor of the material world. In this way, the garment of sorrow represents not only contrition, but also Everyman’s transformation from a sinner to a faithful follower of God, from a person who is focused on the world to one who is focused on heaven.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Garment of Sorrow appears in Everyman. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.