Actor Gary Cooper served as an idealized everyman during the "golden age of Hollywood", appearing as the protagonist in movies such as 1952's High Noon.[1][2]

The everyman is a stock character of fiction. An ordinary and humble character,[3][4] the everyman is generally a protagonist whose benign conduct fosters the audience's identification with them.

Origin and history

"Everywoman" redirects here. For other uses, see Everywoman (disambiguation).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan features an everyman type character who suffers but receives compassion at the hands of the Samaritan.[5]

The term everyman was used as early as an English morality play from the early 1500s: The Summoning of Everyman.[4] The play's protagonist is an allegorical character representing an ordinary human who knows he is soon to die; according to literature scholar Harry Keyishian he is portrayed as "prosperous, gregarious, [and] attractive".[6] Everyman is the only human character of the play; the others are embodied ideas such as Fellowship, who "symbolizes the transience and limitations of human friendship".[6]

The use of the term everyman to refer generically to a portrayal of an ordinary or typical person dates to the early 20th century.[7] The term everywoman[8] originates in the same period, having been used by George Bernard Shaw to describe the character Ann Whitefield of his play Man and Superman.[9]

Narrative uses

An everyman is described with the intent that most audience members can readily identify with him. Although the everyman may face the same difficulties that a hero might, archetypal heroes react rapidly and vigorously by manifest action, whereas an everyman typically avoids engagement or reacts ambivalently, until the situation, growing dire, demands effective reaction to avert disaster. Such a "round", dynamic character—that is, a character showing complexity and development—is generally a protagonist.[10]

Or if lacking complexity and development—thus a "flat", static character—then the everyman is a secondary character.[citation needed] Especially in literature, there is often a narrator, as the written medium enables extensive explication of, for example, previous events, internal details, and mental content. An everyman narrator may be noticed little, whether by other characters or sometimes even by the reader. A narrating everyman, like Ché in the musical Evita,[11][12] may even address the audience directly.[citation needed]

List of examples

See also


  1. ^ a b King, Susan (April 29, 2001). "Back When Decency Was Glamorous". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Murrin, John M.; Johnson, Paul E.; McPherson, James M.; Fahs, Alice; Gerstle, Gary (2011). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Volume 2: Since 1863. Cengage Learning. p. 764. ISBN 9781133171867.
  3. ^ "WordNet Search - 3.0". Princeton University. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Everyman - Definition". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  5. ^ Pickett, Howard (August 2012). "Theatrical Samaritans: Performing Others in Luke 10:25-37". The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning. 11 (1). Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Harry Keyishian, "Review of Douglas Morse, dir.,The Summoning of Everyman (Grandfather Films, 2007)", Shakespeare Bulletin (Johns Hopkins U P), 2008 Fall;26(3):45–48.
  7. ^ ""Everyman, n."". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  8. ^ everywoman, backup
  9. ^ ""Everywoman, n."". Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved October 26, 2021.
  10. ^ "Common Character Archetypes" (PDF). University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts. University of Texas at Austin. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2022-01-28. Retrieved 2021-10-24.
  11. ^ a b Miller, Scott. "Inside Evita by Scott Miller". Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Gans, Andrew (February 10, 2012). "In upcoming revival of Evita, Che will be the "everyman", not Che Guevara". Playbill. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Gharraie, Jonathan (June 27, 2011). "Around Bloom in a Day". Paris Review. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  14. ^ Smith, Gavin (September–October 1999). "Inside Out: Gavin Smith Goes One-on-One with David Fincher". Film Comment. 35 (5): 64.
  15. ^ Bowman, James. "The Apartment". Ethics & Public Policy Center. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  16. ^ Crawford, Julie (February 8, 2019). "The Lego Movie 2 returns with a purpose". North Shore News. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  17. ^ Beach, Lisa A. (October 2016). "Good Grief! Lessons From Charlie Brown". Washington Parent. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  18. ^ Johnson, Barbara A. (1992). Reading Piers Plowman and The Pilgrim's Progress: Reception and the Protestant Reader. SIU Press. pp. 20. ISBN 9780809316533.
  19. ^ a b Jones, Brian; Hamilton, Geoff (2010). Encyclopedia of American Popular Fiction. Infobase Publishing. pp. 62–63, 153. ISBN 9781438116945.
  20. ^ DiBello, John (October 24, 2011). "Bizarro Back Issues: Commissor Gordon vs. the Space Alien (1978)". ComicsAlliance. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  21. ^ "The Office: Co-Workers You'd Love to Have - Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)". MSN TV. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  22. ^ Rickels, Laurence A. (1999). The Vampire Lectures. University of Minnesota Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781452903934.
  23. ^ Alfar, Paolo (January 24, 2020). "10 Most Memorable Hanna-Barbera Characters". Screen Rant. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  24. ^ Byrnes, Paul (November 16, 2016). "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review: Fun but long-winded". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  25. ^ Scott, Hugh (June 7, 2019). "The 25 Best South Park Characters Ever, Ranked". CinemaBlend. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  26. ^ "Back to the Future Day: Where Were They Now (The Cast Then and Today)". Glide. October 21, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  27. ^ Chris, Ball (September 26, 2009). "New on DVD: 'Shrink,' 'Management,' 'The Patty Duke Show' and more". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  28. ^ Adkins, Leslie (May 13, 2009). "AS SEEN ON: My new addiction: 'How I Met Your Mother'". The Dartmouth. Archived from the original on September 17, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  29. ^ Rodden, John (2007). The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell. Cambridge University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780521675079.
  30. ^ "W.C. Fields Biography". Archived from the original on April 6, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  31. ^ Neibaur, James L. (February 28, 2007). "Film Reviews: The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Vol. 2 (2007)". Rogue Cinema. Archived from the original on November 19, 2008. Retrieved April 15, 2020.