In the novel Morality Play by Barry Unsworth, there are very many beautifully vivid and descriptive passages. The most effective passages are those that foreshadow1 events to come. This passage is specifically foreshadowing the protagonist Nicholas Barber, a runaway priest, and the mayhem that befalls him in later instances of the novel. The passage is set just off of the roadside at some time in the cold of night, and adds to the eerie effect that appears later in the novel.
Nicholas unwillingly volunteers himself to join the group of players and help them with the routine tasks needed while they travelled and played: "Let me travel with you. I am not big but I am strong enough, I could help with the scaffolding and the boards when you put up the booth. I write a good hand, I could copy parts and prompt the players" (Barber 13).
Nicholas Barber knew that this would mean getting himself caught up with the wrong crowd, the idea came to him out of complete necessity, but he had no idea that it would eventually lead himself into "artem illam ignominiosam", the most disgraceful art, and to what extent would it affect him in his later years. The Master Player, Martin Bell has other ideas for Nicholas and thus names him sixth player of the group: "A priest can usually sing. Have you a voice for singing?"(Martin 14). Nicholas forfeits any hope of restoring his honour out of the extreme necessity of hunger,
desperation, and his tremendous need for human company: "practicing their shameful trade...forbidden to us by the Holy Church" (Morality Play 14). One thought goes through Barber's head and that is that the players may be performing without a license, but he is quickly reassured: "because of the...