Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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

Summary
Analysis
Edward thanks Justice Clement for his “humanity.” Clement says that only Bobadil and Matthew “have so little of man in ‘em” as to not be any “part” of his “care.” Wellbred, in jest, pleads Matthew’s case, saying he is Bridget’s official poet. Clement insists that he will challenge any poet to “extempore,” right there and then; he quotes from a sonnet by Samuel Daniel.
Justice Clement’s harshest judgments, then, are reserved for the two most haplessly deceptive characters: Bobadil and Matthew. Their inauthenticity was only in service of themselves; Brainworm’s served a higher purpose. Clement’s poetry challenge, like his earlier readiness to fight the arriving soldier, is a comic reminder of the fragility of the peace.
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Wellbred insists that Matthew is more of a “pocket” poet than one who likes to “extempore.” Clement notices that Matthew is carrying “commonwealth of paper” and begins to read some of the pages. Clement is incensed to see that Matthew’s verse is all plagiarized. He sets the papers alight.
Wellbred is just having fun here, mocking Matthew. Justice Clement exposes Matthew’s false status as a poet, paradoxically restoring a kind of authenticity—that is, Matthew’s true self is put on display for all to see. His inauthentic self is ceremonially set ablaze.
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Clement states that a “good poet” is a rare thing, “not born every year.” Clement announces that everyone will have food and drink that evening to celebrate the marriage of Edward and Bridget—except for Bobadil and Matthew, who will have to “fast it out” for being “so false.” He tells Stephen to give Downright his cloak back.
Clement’s words about the rareness of good poets are, in essence, those of Ben Jonson. The playwright was famously boastful about his own abilities, and Clement’s words carry an implied sense of praise for the play. 
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Clement then entreats Cob and Tib to be “reconciled”; they make their peace. Clement tells the rest to rid themselves of their “discontent. You, Master Downright, your anger; you, Master Knowell, your cares; Master Kitely, and his wife, their jealousy.” Clement adds that “this night” will be dedicated to “friendship, love and laughter.” He praises Brainworm and says that, one day, “grandchildren” will hear the stories of his adventures; the stories will find “both spectators, and applause.”
All, then, is brought to a resolution. Clement gives forth his diagnoses, spelling out the bad traits that held power over the individual characters. The closing remarks tie in with play’s prologue, suggesting that the exposure of human folly is, on one hand, entertainment, but also a kind of catharsis. The audience has supposedly been granted a look at humanity as it actually is: self-deceiving, rash, and foolish. Clement values the story, though, more widely suggesting that Jonson’s play itself will be remembered for posterity.
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