Every Man in His Humour


Ben Jonson

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The four humours refers to an ancient medical theory that the human body depended on a balance between blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. An excess of these produced a defect often manifested as an undesirable character trait (e.g. an excess of black bile was associated with melancholy).

Humours Quotes in Every Man in His Humour

The Every Man in His Humour quotes below are all either spoken by Humours or refer to Humours. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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 2, Scene 3 Quotes

A new disease? I know not, new, or old,
But it may well be called poor mortals' plague;
For, like a pestilence, it doth infect
The houses of the brain. First it begins
Solely to work upon the fantasy,
Filling her seat with such pestiferous air,
As soon corrupts the judgment; and from thence,
Sends like contagion to the memory:
Still each to other giving the infection.
Which, as a subtle vapour, spreads itself
Confusedly through every sensive part,
Till not a thought, or motion, in the mind,
Be free from the black poison of suspect.
Ah, but what misery is it, to know this?
Or, knowing it, to want the mind's erection
In such extremes? Well, I will once more strive,
(In spite of this black cloud) myself to be,
And shake the fever off, that thus shakes me.

Related Characters: Kitely (speaker), Dame Kitely
Page Number: 33
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 4 Quotes

COB: Humour! Mack, I think it be so indeed; what is that humour? some rare thing, I warrant.

CASH: Marry I'll tell thee, Cob: it is a gentlemanlike monster, bred in the special gallantry of our time, by affectation; and fed by folly.

Related Characters: Cash (speaker), Cob (speaker)
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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Humours Term Timeline in Every Man in His Humour

The timeline below shows where the term Humours appears in Every Man in His Humour. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 1
Language Theme Icon
Human Folly Theme Icon
...house as “common as a mart, / A theatre, a public receptacle / For giddy humour, and diseased riot.” Wellbred and his “wild associates,” according to Kitely, have filled his house... (full context)
Human Folly Theme Icon
...Wellbred about his actions. Kitely worries that Wellbred would “be ready from this heat of humour” if he was to speak with him. He’s also upset about the way Wellbred’s associates... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
Human Folly Theme Icon
...moved him to “this choler.” Cash tells Cob that he’s probably distressed because of his “humour,” which he describes as a “gentleman-like monster, bred in the special gallantry of our time... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
Human Folly Theme Icon
Authenticity Theme Icon
...about the cause of the commotion. Wellbred 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,... (full context)