Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

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Edward Knowell Character Analysis

Edward Knowell is a young man and son of Old Knowell. He is deeply invested in his education but, to his father’s disapproval, also has a penchant for “idle poetry.” He is a bit impressionable, but also smarter and savvier than his dimwitted cousin Stephen. Edward receives a letter from Wellbred inviting him to spend time at the Old Jewry, where Wellbred promises him much amusement (mostly at the expense of others). With Brainworm’s help, Edward keeps tabs on his father’s attempt to spy on him and enjoys evading his attention. Edward develops a mutual attraction with Mistress Bridget; Wellbred then conspires to marry the two of them, distracting the other characters so that the lovers can elope in secret. At the end of the play, Edward receives Justice Clement’s blessings for his marriage.

Edward Knowell Quotes in Every Man in His Humour

The Every Man in His Humour quotes below are all either spoken by Edward Knowell or refer to Edward Knowell. 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:
Language Theme Icon
). 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 1, Scene 1 Quotes

How happy yet should I esteem myself,
Could I, by any practice, wean the boy
From one vain course of study he affects.
He is a scholar, if a man may trust
The liberal voice of fame in her report,
Of good account in both our Universities,
Either of which hath favoured him with graces:
But their indulgence must not spring in me
A fond opinion that he cannot err.
Myself was once a student, and indeed,
Fed with the self-same humour he is now,
Dreaming on nought but idle poetry,
That fruitless and unprofitable art,
Good unto none, but least to the professors;
Which then I thought the mistress of all knowledge:
But since, time and the truth have waked my judgment.
And reason taught me better to distinguish
The vain from the useful learnings.

Related Characters: Old Knowell (speaker), Edward Knowell
Related Symbols: Poetry
Page Number: 8-10
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

I am resolved, I will not stop his journey;
Nor practise any violent means, to stay
The unbridled course of youth in him; for that,
Restrained, grows more impatient; and, in kind,
Like to the eager but the generous greyhound,
Who ne'er so little from his game withheld,
Turns head, and leaps up at his holder's throat.
There is a way of winning, more by love,
And urging of the modesty, than fear:
Force works on servile natures, not the free.
He that's compelled to goodness may be good;
But 'tis but for that fit; where others, drawn
By softness and example, get a habit.
Then, if they stray, but warn ‘em, and the same
They should for virtue have done, they'll do for shame.

Related Characters: Old Knowell (speaker), Edward Knowell
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 5 Quotes

Nay, would ourselves were not the first, even parents,
That did destroy the hopes in our own children:
Or they not learned our vices in their cradles,
And sucked in our ill customs with their milk.
Ere all their teeth be born, or they can speak,
We make their palates cunning! the first words
We form their tongues with, are licentious jests!
Can it call, whore? cry bastard? O, then, kiss it!

Related Characters: Old Knowell (speaker), Edward Knowell
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

STEPHEN: Ay, truly, sir, I am mightily given to melancholy.

MATTHEW: Oh, it's your only fine humour, sir: your true melancholy breeds your perfect fine wit, sir. I am melancholy myself, divers times, sir, and then do I no more but take pen and paper presently, and overflow you half a score, or a dozen of sonnets at a sitting.

Related Characters: Master Stephen (speaker), Master Matthew (speaker), Edward Knowell, Wellbred
Related Symbols: Poetry
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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 3, Scene 7 Quotes

Your cares are nothing: they are like my cap, soon put on, and as soon put off. What! your son is old enough to govern himself: let him run his course, it's the only way to make him staid man.

Related Characters: Justice Clement (speaker), Edward Knowell, Old Knowell
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

EDWARD: We are the more bound to your humanity, sir.

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Only these two have so little of man in ‘em, they are no part of my care.

Related Characters: Edward Knowell (speaker), Justice Clement (speaker), Master Matthew, Captain Bobadil
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

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

Edward Knowell Character Timeline in Every Man in His Humour

The timeline below shows where the character Edward Knowell 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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...with Old Knowell at home. He asks Brainworm, his servant, to call for his son, Edward Knowell—but not to disturb him if he is studying. Old Knowell expresses gladness that Edward... (full context)
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Master Stephen, Old Knowell’s dim-witted nephew from the countryside, comes in. Stephen asks if Edward Knowell has any books on the “sciences of hawking and hunting” that he could borrow—he’s... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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A servant comes in with a letter for Edward. Old Knowell decides, as he too is called “Edward,” to read the letter and check... (full context)
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Old Knowell reads the letter, which is from Wellbred, a roguish London gallant. It invites Edward to come and spend time at the Old Jewry, promising him that there are some... (full context)
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...Brainworm back into the room. He gives his servant the letter to pass on to Edward, making him promise not to tell him that he has read it—which Brainworm otherwise wouldn’t... (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 its contents. Stephen comes in,... (full context)
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Edward explains to Stephen that there is no need for him to be “melancholy”—he was laughing... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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...ex-soldier. He announces his intentions to disrupt Old Knowell’s attempts to follow and spy on Edward. (full context)
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Just then, Edward and Stephen come by. Stephen is fretting about having lost his purse. Brainworm, sensing that... (full context)
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...sword is a good one. Brainworm assures him it is a “most pure Toledo.” Though Edward tries to persuade him otherwise, Stephen buys the sword. They all exit. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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...and delivers a long speech about parenting. He vacillates between wanting to take control of Edward’s life and wanting to give him space. He talks nostalgically about his own youth, reflecting... (full context)
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...the effectiveness of his disguise. He plans to relay any information about Old Knowell to Edward. (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Edward enters with Stephen, greeting Wellbred warmly and calling him a “fine gallant” for his letter.... (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 and Wellbred finding this hilarious. Wellbred compares Stephen to “a drum; for everyone may play... (full context)
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Brainworm unveils his disguise to Edward, informing him about Old Knowell’s attempts to follow him. He then tells Edward and Wellbred... (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... (full context)
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...go inside, with the latter hoping to charm Mistress Bridget with his “verse.” Wellbred and Edward go inside to have the “happiness to hear some of his poetry now.” (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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Evidently in a frivolous mood, Justice Clement tells Old Knowell that his worries about Edward are “nothing”; “Your son is old enough to govern himself,” he says. (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,... (full context)
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Edward and Wellbred listen amusedly as Matthew utters “stolen remnants” from Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...blames it 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... (full context)
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Bridget and Dame Kitely praise Edward, with Bridget suggesting she has affections for him. Dame Kitely says he is “of an... (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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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...Old Jewry. Brainworm arrives too, still disguised as a soldier. Brainworm craftily informs Knowell that Edward has received information about his father’s attempts to spy on him. Brainworm claims to have... (full context)
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Brainworm relays that, during his run-in with Edward and the others, he gleaned that they are heading to Cob’s house—where Edward has his... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
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Matthew, Edward, Bobadil, and Stephen speak disparagingly about Downright. Bobadil states that, with what he taught Matthew... (full context)
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...would select a group of the right men and teach them how to fight properly. Edward (probably sarcastically) points out that Downright ought to be afraid of Bobadil. (full context)
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Downright leaves. Bobadil tries to excuse his cowardly behavior to Edward and Stephen by claiming he is bound by a “warrant of the peace” not to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 10
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...he is, she is reluctant to say. She tells Knowell that she’s never heard of Edward. (full context)
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...another. Old Knowell sense that a trick has been played on him for spying on Edward—and “half-forgives” Edward if he is behind it all. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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...day; he explains that Wellbred is making use of the distraction to marry Bridget and Edward. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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Roger Formal, drunk, arrives at Justice Clement’s house, followed shortly after by Edward, Wellbred, and Bridget. Clement tells Edward that he has “made your peace […] so will... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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Edward thanks Justice Clement for his “humanity.” Clement says that only Bobadil and Matthew “have so... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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”... (full context)