Every Man in His Humour Characters

Ben Jonson

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Knowell, an old gentleman. A kind and generous father, he is somewhat inclined to formality and overstrictness in governing his son. After being tricked into a ridiculous situation by his son Edward, Wellbred, and Brainworm, he good-humoredly forgives them and confesses that he has brought on his discomfiture by his own meddlesomeness.

Edward Knowell

Edward Knowell, Old Knowell’s son. A bright young student, he troubles his father by too much attention to poetry, “that fruitless and unprofitable art.” With his friend Wellbred, he finds enjoyment in the foibles of his associates. He is much taken with Kitely’s lovely sister Bridget; with Wellbred’s and Brainworm’s help, he marries her.


Brainworm, Knowell’s witty, mischievous servant. A literary descendant of the witty slave of Roman comedy, he is the prime mover of the dramatic action. Having, as he says, “a nimble soul,” he appears in various disguises, aids his young master, and befools his old one. His wit arouses Justice Clement’s admiration and earns his pardon.


Wellbred, Dame Kitely’s younger brother. A gay, somewhat impish young bachelor, he writes to Edward Knowell an uninhibited letter that is intercepted and read by Old Knowell, who is shocked at its flippant disrespect. When the old gentleman endeavors to separate this baneful influence from his son, Wellbred, aided by Brainworm, tricks the old man. He also arranges Edward’s marriage.

Captain Bobadill

Captain Bobadill, a braggart captain. He is fond of quoting snatches of Elizabethan plays, particularly fromThe Spanish Tragedy. His fund of anecdotes of his pretended military career is boundless. He is foolish and cowardly but not vicious. One of the distinctions of the role is that Charles Dickens acted...

(The entire section is 782 words.)