Every Man in His Humour

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Ben Jonson (1572—1637) poet and playwright

William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet


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A comedy by Jonson, performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men 1598, with Shakespeare in the cast, printed 1601. In his folio of 1616 Jonson published an extensively revised version, with the setting changed from Florence to London and the characters given English names.

In the latter version Kitely, a merchant, is the husband of a young wife, and his ‘humour’ is irrational jealousy. His house is resorted to by his brother‐in‐law Wellbred with a crowd of riotous but harmless gallants, and these he suspects of designs both on his wife and on his sister Bridget. One of these young men is Edward Knowell, whose father's ‘humour’ is excessive concern for his son's morals. Bobadill, one of Jonson's greatest creations, a ‘Paul's man’, is a boastful cowardly soldier, who associates with the young men and is admired by Matthew, a ‘town gull’ and poetaster, and Edward's cousin Stephen, a ‘country gull’. Out of these elements, by the aid of the devices and disguises of the mischievous Brainworm, Knowell's servant, an imbroglio is produced in which Kitely and his wife are brought face to face at the house of a water‐bearer to which each thinks the other has gone for an amorous assignation; Bobadill is exposed and beaten; Edward Knowell is married to Bridget; and Matthew and Stephen are held up to ridicule. The misunderstandings are cleared up by the shrewd and kindly Justice Clement.

Subjects: Literature.

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