Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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Every Man in His Humour: Act 4, Scene 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Bobadil and Matthew meet in a city street. They worry about their reputations but make their excuses. When Brainworm comes by, dressed as Roger Formal, they complain to him about Downright and ask for an arrest warrant. Brainworm says he will give them what they want in exchange for money, but neither of them has any.
Bobadil and Matthew take a more cowardly route now, hoping to get revenge on Downright for embarrassing them earlier. Brainworm, ever the opportunist, tries to get money out of them. Bobadil and Matthew’s trust of Brainworm’s disguise speaks to the overall instability of identity shown throughout the play.
Themes
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
Bobadil and Matthew give Brainworm jewelry and silk stockings in exchange for a warrant. Matthew describes Downright as a “tall big man” wearing a cloak with “russet lace.” Brainworm promises to get a city “varlet” to serve the warrant to Downright. Bobadil and Matthew exit, Brainworm announces his intentions to pawn Roger Formal’s cloak.
Bobadil and Matthew’s attempts to pay off Brainworm—who they think is Formal—contributes to the sense of inauthenticity in the play by implying that, to them at least, the law is not an objective reality but something that can be manipulated with the right resources. A varlet is a man or boy acting as a servant, but also carries with connotations of dishonesty—in keeping with the play’s theme of authenticity/inauthenticity.
Themes
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon