Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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Every Man in His Humour: Act 3, Scene 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In a street near the Windmill tavern, Matthew and Bobadil tell Wellbred that they were looking for him earlier. Bobadil tries to complain to Wellbred about Downright, but Wellbred insists he change the topic of conversation.
Wellbred, despite his own tensions with Downright, refuses to talk badly about his half-brother, suggesting a sort of code of honor.
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Edward enters with Stephen, greeting Wellbred warmly and calling him a “fine gallant” for his letter. Edward explains that Old Knowell contrived to read Wellbred’s letter. Wellbred promises Edward that he will enjoy listening—and mocking—Bobadil and Matthew, whom he calls his two “wind-instruments.” Likewise, replies Edward, Stephen will bring amusement to Wellbred.
Edward and Wellbred have respect for one another. Wellbred sees Bobadil and Matthew as instruments for the playing—that is, if provoked in the right way, their ridiculous speech and actions will be the source of much amusement. Edward offers Stephen as a kind of exchange.
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Stephen introduces himself to Wellbred, insisting that he is “mightily given to melancholy.” Matthew, not wanting to be left out, insists that he is melancholy too—and that this is often leads him to “take pen and paper” and “overflow” with the composition of poetry.
Stephen plays up his melancholy nature, thinking it might win him respect. Matthew, not to be outdone by Stephen’s foolishness, quickly interjects with his poetry.
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Related Quotes
Bobadil, who has been musing quietly, boasts about his achievements in battle. He claims to have been “the first man that entered the breach” in the battle of Strigonium. Bobadil talks of using his sword skillfully, comparing it to mythical weapons like “Excalibur.”
Bobadil boasts often about his military prowess, but only the less smart characters take him at his word. The battle he mentions took place in Hungary. Excalibur was the sword of England’s mythic hero, King Arthur, who Bobadil would undoubtedly like to be compared to.
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Stephen, excited by all the talk of swords, shows Bobadil his new purchase, claiming that it, like the one Bobadil talks of, is from Spanish Toledo. Bobadil quickly pours scorn on Stephen’s sword, telling that it is a cheap knock-off. Stephen is furious with Brainworm for selling him the weapon (while disguised).
Brainworm’s deception with the sword is revealed. Like many of the characters in the play, the sword is a cheap imitation of what it is claimed to be. All the talk of swords also introduces a sense of threat and potential violence.
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