Every Man in His Humour


Ben Jonson

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Every Man in His Humour: Act 2, Scene 5 Summary & Analysis

Old Knowell arrives on the Moorfields and delivers a long speech about parenting. He vacillates between wanting to take control of Edward’s life and wanting to give him space. He talks nostalgically about his own youth, reflecting on the change in “manners” of young people in his day compared with now. Parents, he says, often pass on their own faults to their children by setting a bad example.
This speech gives the audience a clear insight into Old Knowell’s state of mind, and his difficulties in figuring out how best to parent Edward. On the one hand, he wants to control his son’s life; on the other, he remembers developing from a youth into a man and doesn’t want to disrupt that process.
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Related Quotes
Brainworm reappears, still in disguise, and begs Old Knowell for money. He also claims his name is Fitzsword. Knowell tells him he should be ashamed to be begging, suggesting he should go back to “the wars” or find some “honest labour.” Knowell, pitying Brainworm, says he will hire him, and exits.
Brainworm appears to have come up with his new name as a way of authenticating his supposed past as a soldier. Knowell’s moralizing here rings a little hollow, given he is currently attempting to spy on his own son.
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Brainworm delights in the effectiveness of his disguise. He plans to relay any information about Old Knowell to Edward.
Brainworm actively enjoys his role as a deceiver. He loosely embodies the stock character of a “witty slave” found in ancient Greek theater.
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