Every Man in His Humour

by

Ben Jonson

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Every Man in His Humour can help.
Swords Symbol Icon

In Elizabethan London, it was not uncommon for men to carry swords or daggers; accordingly, there’s quite a few mentions of them in Every Man in his Humour. When Master Matthew calls on Captain Bobadil, a braggart soldier, early on in the play, Bobadil doesn’t waste any time in (falsely) bragging about his exploits in wars and duels. He shows Matthew some swordfighting techniques, demonstrating his machismo and bravado in the process to his impressed companion. On the hand, then, swords represent exactly that: male aggression and status. This is played on throughout. In one instance, country simpleton Stephen buys a cheap knock-off sword from Brainworm (who is disguised as an ex-soldier), thinking it will enhance his prowess. He soon learns that it isn’t, in fact, a genuine Spanish Toledo. Later in the play, Downright challenges Bobadil and quickly disarms him; this represents a kind of emasculation, with Downright depriving his opponent of the (phallic) symbol of his male vigor. More generally, the abundance of swords in the play speaks to the tense, powder-keg atmosphere—the audience senses that a fight could happen at almost any time, if someone says or does the wrong thing.

Swords Quotes in Every Man in His Humour

The Every Man in His Humour quotes below all refer to the symbol of Swords. 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 5, Scene 2 Quotes

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Nay, keep out, sir; I know not your pretence. You send me word, sir, you are a soldier: why, sir, you shall be answered, here, here be them that have been amongst soldiers. Sir, your pleasure.

BOBADIL: Faith, sir, so it is, this gentleman, and myself, have been most uncivilly wronged, and beaten, by one Downright, a coarse fellow, about the town, here, and for mine own part, I protest, being a man in no sort given to this filthy humour of quarrelling, he hath assaulted me in the way of my peace; despoiled me of mine honour; disarmed me of my weapons; and rudely, laid me along, in the open streets: when I not so much as once offered to resist him.

JUSTICE CLEMENT: Oh God's precious! Is this the soldier? Here, take my armour off quickly, ‘twill make him swoon, I fear; he is not fit to look on't, that will put up a blow.

Related Characters: Captain Bobadil (speaker), Justice Clement (speaker), Wellbred, Downright
Related Symbols: Swords
Page Number: 90-91
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:
Get the entire Every Man in His Humour LitChart as a printable PDF.
Every Man in His Humour PDF

Swords Symbol Timeline in Every Man in His Humour

The timeline below shows where the symbol Swords appears in Every Man in His Humour. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 5
Authenticity Theme Icon
...sees him—that is, beat him up. Bobadil, outraged, shows Matthew some tips for dueling with swords. They then leave the house to get some food and call on Wellbred to discuss... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...Brainworm, sensing that he cannot easily hide, greets them in character. He offers Stephen a sword for sale, which he promises is “very excellent good.” When Edward asks where he has... (full context)
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
Gullibly, Stephen is convinced that the sword is a good one. Brainworm assures him it is a “most pure Toledo.” Though Edward... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...man that entered the breach” in the battle of Strigonium. Bobadil talks of using his sword skillfully, comparing it to mythical weapons like “Excalibur.” (full context)
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
Stephen, excited by all the talk of swords, shows Bobadil his new purchase, claiming that it, like the one Bobadil talks of, is... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Human Folly Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
Language Theme Icon
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...ruffian-tricks somewhere else.” He criticizes the company Wellbred keeps and, suddenly, both men draw their weapons. Bobadil draws his sword too. The others separate them as Cash enters. (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...he has run into “these bragging rascals” yet again, he tells Bobadil to draw his sword. Bobadil tries to back out of the fight; Downright quickly and easily disarms him. Matthew,... (full context)
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...then claims he was “struck with a planet” that supernaturally prevented him from drawing his weapon. He leaves. Stephen picks up Downright’s discarded cloak. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...Downright; he complains that Downright “despoiled me of mine honour” and disarmed him of his sword. Clement is less than impressed with Bobadil’s cowardice. (full context)