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

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

Once facing an extraordinary challenge, an everyman may mount an exceptional response, perhaps even fulfilling a hero's journey, acquiring exceptional abilities that complement his commonplace, humble core.[citation needed]

General traitsEdit

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

While the term everywoman dates to the very early 20th century,[6] the term everyman traces to an English morality play, thus an allegorical play, from the early 1500s: The Summoning of Everyman.[4] Rather unlike a modern everyman, he is not only a "representative human" and "gregarious", but is "prosperous" and "attractive" as well, explains literature scholar Harry Keyishian.[7] But he, Everyman, living his last days, is the only character fully human.[7] The others are embodied ideas, like Fellowship who, explains Keyishian, "symbolizes the transience and limitations of human friendship."[7] On the other hand, a modern everyman, not confined to allegories, is set in a familiar social context.

Generally, a modern everyman, although perhaps adolescent, is neither a child nor elderly, and is physically unremarkable.[citation needed] Although his intellect and integrity may be appreciable, he typically lacks the privilege of authority or prosperity, and occupies the middle class or lower class with the bulk of society.[citation needed] He typically shows some moral idealism, yearning for greater success, and foresight in career or family life.[citation needed] Yet his modest means may compound life's vicissitudes while his own virtues, casting him in roles valuable to others, may escalate his own troubles.[citation needed] Still, by his resourcefulness and fortitude, he may fulfill his modest ambitions, often furthering the greater good as well.[citation needed]

Narrative usesEdit

An everyman is crafted so that most audience members can readily situate themselves in his shoes. Although the everyman may face obstacles and adversities that a hero might, archetypal heroes react rapidly and vigorously by manifest traits, whereas an everyman typically avoids engagement or reacts ambivalently, until the situation, growing dire, demands effective reaction to avert disaster.[citation needed] Such a round, dynamic character—that is, a character showing depth and development—is then generally a protagonist.[citation needed]

Or if lacking depth and development—thus a flat, static character—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, backstory, tangents, physical details, and mental content. An everyman narrator may draw little notice, whether by other characters or sometimes even by the reader, since the narration emerges, then, from the story world. And if neutral or relatable enough, the narrating everyman, like Ché in the musical Evita,[8][9] may even, breaking the fourth wall directly address the audience.[citation needed]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b King, Susan (April 29, 2001). "Back When Decency Was Glamorous". The 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. ^ "Everywoman - Definition". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c 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.
  8. ^ a b Miller, Scott. "Inside Evita by Scott Miller". NewLineTheatre.com. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Smith, Gavin (September–October 1999). "Inside Out: Gavin Smith Goes One-on-One with David Fincher". Film Comment. 35 (5): 64.
  11. ^ Bowman, James. "The Apartment". Ethics & Public Policy Center. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  12. ^ Gharraie, Jonathan (June 27, 2011). "Around Bloom in a Day". Paris Review. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  13. ^ Crawford, Julie (February 8, 2019). "The Lego Movie 2 returns with a purpose". North Shore News. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  14. ^ Beach, Lisa A. (October 2016). "Good Grief! Lessons From Charlie Brown". Washington Parent. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  15. ^ "What Makes Jackie Chan One of a Kind". The Criterion Collection. May 6, 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  16. ^ Johnson, Barbara A. (1992). Reading Piers Plowman and The Pilgrim's Progress: Reception and the Protestant Reader. SIU Press. pp. 20. ISBN 9780809316533.
  17. ^ a b Jones, Brian; Hamilton, Geoff (2010). Encyclopedia of American Popular Fiction. Infobase Publishing. pp. 62–63, 153. ISBN 9781438116945.
  18. ^ DiBello, John (October 24, 2011). "Bizarro Back Issues: Commissor Gordon vs. the Space Alien (1978)". ComicsAlliance.com. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Office: Co-Workers You'd Love to Have - Jim Halpert (John Krasinski)". MSN.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  20. ^ Rickels, Laurence A. The Vampire Lectures. University of Minnesota Press. p. 28. ISBN 9781452903934.
  21. ^ Alfar, Paolo (January 24, 2020). "10 Most Memorable Hanna-Barbera Characters". ScreenRant.com. Retrieved April 21, 2020.
  22. ^ Byrnes, Paul (November 16, 2016). "Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them review: Fun but long-winded". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  23. ^ Scott, Hugh (June 7, 2019). "The 25 Best South Park Characters Ever, Ranked". CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  24. ^ "Back to the Future Day: Where Were They Now (The Cast Then and Today)". Glide. October 21, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  25. ^ Chris, Ball (September 26, 2009). "New on DVD: 'Shrink,' 'Management,' 'The Patty Duke Show' and more". Cleveland Plain Dealer. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Rodden, John (2007). The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell. Cambridge University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780521675079.
  28. ^ "W.C. Fields Biography". TheBiographyChannel.com. Archived from the original on April 6, 2013. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  29. ^ 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.