Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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Every Man in His Humour: Act 4, Scene 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back at Kitely’s house, Wellbred explains to Kitely and Dame Kitely that anger is in Downright’s nature—and that there was “no harm done” in the earlier altercation. Dame Kitely says that “harm might have come of it”—Wellbred points out that harm could come from anything, suggesting flippantly that she might have poisoned Kitely’s wine.
Wellbred defends his half-brother, essentially blaming Downright’s quick temper on his humours. Dame Kitely makes a reasonable point; Wellbred’s reply is not intended to be taken seriously.
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Kitely, in a fit of paranoia, takes Wellbred’s suggestion to heart and says he feels “ill.” Wellbred, Dame Kitely and Bridget all tell Kitely to pull himself together.
Kitely’s mind is confused and suggestible, making him take Wellbred’s throwaway words far too literally.
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Brainworm comes in, now dressed as Roger Formal. He tells Kitely that his master, Justice Clement, desires to speak with him as soon as possible. Kitely goes to look for Cash and Cob, whom he wants to act as “sentinels” while he goes to Justice Clement’s.
This is Brainworm’s second disguise, showing that he has considerable skill in trying on different identities to serve his purpose. Kitely wants Cash and Cob to act almost like soldiers, guarding the house from the influence of Wellbred and his associates.
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Brainworm explains to Wellbred how he managed to procure Roger Formal’s clothes: he got the other man drunk and stole them, leaving Formal in a drunken stupor. Wellbred is impressed. He tells Brainworm to return to Edward and tell him to meet him at “the Tower,” where Wellbred has arranged for him to marry Bridget Kitely. Brainworm leaves.
Wellbred, like Edward, has a taste for mischievous behavior—especially that which shows people up for their follies. The Tower refers to an area of London outside of the normal controls of the religious authorities (but not anti-religious).
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Kitely comes in with Cash, instructing him to stay at the house, keep note of any visitors, and interrupt any interactions they might try to have with Dame Kitely. He leaves again, looking for Cob.
Kitely essentially wants Cash to act as a kind of spy, echoing Old Knowell’s attempts to spy on his son.
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Dame Kitely wonders why Kitely is looking for Cob so eagerly. Wellbred mischievously implies that Kitely is interested in Cob’s wife, Tib, whom he says is a “bawd.” Now jealous too, she drags Cash off to look for Kitely with her.
Here, Jonson ramps up the absurdity, using Wellbred as a vehicle to further confuse the other characters. Dame Kitely now mirrors her own husband’s jealousy, both of them thinking the other to be cheating.
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Wellbred tries to convince Bridget to marry Edward. She is clearly keen on the idea, but feels that Wellbred is acting too much like “an old knight-adventurer’s servant.” Just then, Kitely returns, having realized that Justice Clement had not called for him as Brainworm said. Bridget tells him that Dame Kitely has gone to Cob’s house with Cash; Kitely heads there in a fit of jealousy.
Bridget does marry Edward, and the hesitancy displayed here is resolved into her decision to accept the marriage. The audience already knows from earlier that she is attracted to him, though. This slight hole in the plot speaks to the fact that, really, it’s not the plot that matters in this play—it’s the absurd behaviors of the characters.
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