In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances. The name derives from a 15th-century Englishmorality play called Everyman.
The contemporary everyman differs greatly from his (or her) medieval counterpart in many respects. While the medieval everyman was devoid of definite marks of individuality in order to create a universality in the moral message of the play, the contemporary storyteller may use an everyman for amoral, immoral, or demonstrative purposes.
The everyman character is constructed so that the audience can imagine itself in the same situation without having to possess knowledge, skills, or abilities that transcend human potential. Such characters react realistically in situations that are often taken for granted with traditional heroes.
Alternatively, an everyman occupies the role of protagonist without being a "hero" and without necessarily being a round character or a dynamic character. In this scenario, the everyman is developed like a secondary character, but the character's near omnipresence within the narrative shifts the focus from character development to events and story lines surrounding the character. Some audiences or readers may project themselves into this character, if no dominant characteristic of the everyman prevents them from doing so. Others may ignore the character and concentrate on the story arc, the visual imagery, the irony or satire, and any other aspect of the story which the orchestrator(s) of the story have focused upon or, indeed, whatever personally interests the reader.
^Prickett, Stephen (2008). "Scriptural Interpretation in the English Literary Tradition". In Magne Saebo. Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation. II (from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 934.
^James L. Neibaur (Wednesday, February 28, 2007). "Film Reviews: The W.C. Fields Comedy Collection Vol. 2 (2007)". Rogue Cinema. "It was talking pictures that helped to fully realize Fields' character. He was at once an angry wiseacre, and at other times a put-upon henpecked husband whose Everyman was at the mercy of any and all authority. His winning in the end provides a vicarious thrill for the viewer, as does his dry mockery of his stereotypical surroundings."Check date values in: |date= (help)
^Cohan, Steven (1997). Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties. Indiana University Press. p. 20.|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
^"Rhys Williams". BBC Torchwood: Children of Earth official site. Retrieved 20 January 2011.