Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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Brainworm is servant to Old Knowell and Edward Knowell but allies more with his younger master. His function in the plot is as a master of disguise and deception, which he uses to help Edward evade the attentions of his father. Much of the play’s momentum comes from Brainworm’s actions; he can thus be considered as a version of the archetypal witty slave found in Ancient Greek and Roman theater. Brainworm’s first disguise is as Fitzsword, which he uses to glean information about Old Knowell’s attempts to spy on Edward. He then disguises himself as Roger Formal, Justice Clement’s assistant, before in turn taking on the appearance of a policeman and making the arrest of Downright. Ultimately, Brainworm is commended—not condemned—for his deceitful actions when they come to light. Justice Clement believes that Brainworm deserves no punishment because of the great “wit” of his scheming, and that, furthermore, generations to come will be taking about his—and the wider—story.

Brainworm Quotes in Every Man in His Humour

The Every Man in His Humour quotes below are all either spoken by Brainworm or refer to Brainworm. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Oxford University Press edition of Every Man in His Humour published in 2009.
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

EDWARD: Ay, by his leave, he is, and under favour: a pretty piece of civility! Sirrah, how dost thou like him?

WELLBRED: Oh, it's a most precious fool, make much on him: I can compare him to nothing more happily than a drum; for every one may play upon him.

Related Characters: Edward Knowell (speaker), Wellbred (speaker), Brainworm, Master Stephen
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 3 Quotes

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Why, Master Downright, are you such a novice, to be served, and never see the warrant?

DOWNRIGHT: Sir. He did not serve it on me.

JUSTICE CLEMENT: No? how then?

DOWNRIGHT: Marry, sir, he came to me, and said, he must serve it, and he would use me kindly, and so—

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Oh, God's pity, was it so, sir? He must serve it? Give me my longsword there, and help me off; so. Come on, sir varlet, I must cut off your legs, sirrah; nay, stand up, I'll use you kindly, I must cut off your legs, I say.

Related Characters: Downright (speaker), Justice Clement (speaker), Brainworm
Related Symbols: Swords
Page Number: 90-91
Explanation and Analysis:

And I will consider thee in another cup of sack. Here's to thee, which having drunk off this my sentence: Pledge me. Thou hast done, or assisted to nothing, in my judgment, but deserves to be pardon'd for the wit of the offence.

Related Characters: Justice Clement (speaker), Brainworm
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Good complement! It will be their bridal night too. They are married anew. Come, I conjure the rest, to put off all discontent. You, master Downright, your anger; you, master Knowell, your cares; Master Kitely and his wife, their jealousy.

[…]

'Tis well, 'tis well! This night we'll dedicate to friendship, love, and laughter. Master bridegroom, take your bride and lead; everyone, a fellow. Here is my mistress, Brainworm! To whom all my addresses of courtship shall have their reference. Whose adventures, this day, when our grandchildren shall hear to be made a fable, I doubt not, but it shall find both spectators, and applause.

Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:
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Every Man in His Humour PDF

Brainworm Character Timeline in Every Man in His Humour

The timeline below shows where the character Brainworm appears in Every Man in His Humour. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 1
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The play opens with Old Knowell at home. He asks Brainworm, his servant, to call for his son, Edward Knowell—but not to disturb him if he... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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...almost gets in a fight with the servant over nothing before exiting. Old Knowell summons Brainworm to make the servant a drink. (full context)
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Knowell summons Brainworm back into the room. He gives his servant the letter to pass on to Edward,... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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Brainworm delivers the letter to Edward, immediately and deliberately informing him that Old Knowell has read... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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Now on the Moorfields, Brainworm enters disguised as a vagrant ex-soldier. He announces his intentions to disrupt Old Knowell’s attempts... (full context)
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Just then, Edward and Stephen come by. Stephen is fretting about having lost his purse. Brainworm, sensing that he cannot easily hide, greets them in character. He offers Stephen a sword... (full context)
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Gullibly, Stephen is convinced that the sword is a good one. Brainworm assures him it is a “most pure Toledo.” Though Edward tries to persuade him otherwise,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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Brainworm reappears, still in disguise, and begs Old Knowell for money. He also claims his name... (full context)
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Brainworm delights in the effectiveness of his disguise. He plans to relay any information about Old... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...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). (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Brainworm joins the group, still in disguise. Stephen confronts him angrily about the sword, with Edward... (full context)
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Brainworm unveils his disguise to Edward, informing him about Old Knowell’s attempts to follow him. He... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Wellbred, Edward, Brainworm, Bobadil, Matthew, and Stephen arrive. Edward and Wellbred are praising Brainworm for his skill as... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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Bridget, Matthew, Bobadil, Wellbred, Stephen, Edward, and Brainworm all enter at Kitely’s house. Matthew intends to read some poetry to Bridget, causing Downright... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...on “one of my brother’s ancient humours” and leaves, with Stephen, Bobadil, Matthew, Edward and Brainworm in tow. Downright rants about Wellbred, Bobadil, and Matthew. Bridget criticizes him for being too... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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At the Windmill tavern, Edward and Wellbred instruct Brainworm, still disguised, to take a message to Downright. They talk about Bridget Kitely, whom Edward... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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Roger Formal and Old Knowell meet in a street of the Old Jewry. Brainworm arrives too, still disguised as a soldier. Brainworm craftily informs Knowell that Edward has received... (full context)
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Brainworm relays that, during his run-in with Edward and the others, he gleaned that they are... (full context)
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Roger Formal, intrigued by Brainworm’s (false) backstory, insists on buying him some wine and hearing about his life. They exit... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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Brainworm comes in, now dressed as Roger Formal. He tells Kitely that his master, Justice Clement,... (full context)
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Brainworm explains to Wellbred how he managed to procure Roger Formal’s clothes: he got the other... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 9
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...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... (full context)
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Bobadil and Matthew give Brainworm jewelry and silk stockings in exchange for a warrant. Matthew describes Downright as a “tall... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 11
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Brainworm, now disguised as a constable, encounters Matthew and Bobadil on a street. He tells them... (full context)
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...out that he is wearing the same cloak as Downright. Just then, Downright comes in. Brainworm in turn tries to serve him with the warrant on Matthew and Bobadil’s behalf; Downright... (full context)
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Downright asks for his cloak back. With Stephen refusing, Downright tells Brainworm to arrest him for being a thief. Stephen gives him the cloak but is forced... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Downright, Brainworm, and Stephen enter. Old Knowell explains that Stephen is his nephew. Stephen says he has... (full context)
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Justice Clement asks about the warrant; Brainworm, in disguise as the “varlet,” says he doesn’t have it—but that it was Roger Formal... (full context)
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Justice Clement mocks Downright for following Brainworm’s instructions, waving his sword over Brainworm, saying that he “must cut” him—but not doing so.... (full context)
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Brainworm protests, throwing off his disguise. Old Knowell is shocked to see his servant; he is... (full context)
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Justice Clement tells Brainworm to go and fetch the young couple, praising the “good news.” He asks Brainworm for... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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...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... (full context)