Every Man in His Humour


Ben Jonson

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Every Man in His Humour: Act 1, Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

Matthew finds Captain Bobadil, a braggart soldier, inside Cob’s house. They talk about the drunken night before, and Bobadil asks Matthew—even though he insists there is no cause for embarrassment—not to tell anyone he is lodging at Cob’s. 
Bobadil clearly does sense that public knowledge of his lodging at Cob’s would be a dent in his social status.  Likewise, letting on that it’s embarrassing would diminish his status in Matthew’s eyes.
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Bobadil notices that Matthew is carrying a copy of The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd. They both effusively praise the play; Matthew quotes from it while Bobadil gets dressed. Matthew also recites some lines which he claims are “a toy o’ mine own.” Matthew says Bobadil should come to his study soon to here his most recent writing.
One of Jonson’s first forays into theater was acting in the play mentioned here, which is widely considered as the work that established the revenge genre in English theater. The lines from Matthew are probably plagiarized, but the source has not been traced.
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Matthew complains to Bobadil about an argument he had with Downright, the no-nonsense half-brother of Wellbred, about men’s fashion. Matthew goes on to say that Downright has threatened to give him the “bastinado” next time he sees him—that is, beat him up. Bobadil, outraged, shows Matthew some tips for dueling with swords. They then leave the house to get some food and call on Wellbred to discuss Downright.
The conversation here sets up the conflict with Downright, and also gestures to the fragility of social status in Elizabethan London—Matthew feels slighted that Wellbred talked disparagingly about his look.
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