The everyman is a variant of stock character in storytelling media, such as novels, plays, television series and movies. An ordinary and humble character, the everyman is generally a protagonist, whose benign conduct fosters the audience's wide identification with him.
Once facing an extraordinary challenge, everyman may mount an exceptional response, nonetheless, perhaps even fulfilling a hero's journey, acquiring exceptional abilities, after all, that complement his commonplace, humble core.
While the term everywoman dates to the very early 20th century, the term everyman traces to an Englishmorality play, thus an allegorical play, from the early 1500s: The Summoning ofEveryman. Rather unlike a modern everyman, he is not only a "representative human" and "gregarious", but is "prosperous" and "attractive," too, explains literature scholar Harry Keyishian. But he, Everyman, living his last days, is the only character fully human. The others are embodied ideas, like Fellowship who, explains Keyishian, "symbolizes the transience and limitations of human friendship." 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. 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. He typically shows some moral idealism, yearning for greater success, and foresight in career or family life. 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. Still, by his resourcefulness and fortitude, he may fulfill his modest ambitions, often furthering the greater good as well.
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. Such a round, dynamic character--that is, a character showing depth and development--is then generally a protagonist.
Or if lacking depth and development--thus a flat, static character--the everyman is a secondary character. 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, may even, breaking the fourth wall directly address the audience.