Everyman

by: Philip Roth

Phoebe

Characters Phoebe

Of all the women the everyman is involved with, Phoebe is the one who most clearly comes to see him for who he is, and who shares his stoic acceptance of pain without giving in to emotional numbness. Phoebe has a girlish and pure quality to her physical appearance. She doesn’t wear lipstick and has small breasts. She suffers from intense migraines but never gives in to hyperbole or morbidity over her health, even when the medication she takes for the migraines triggers a paralyzing stroke. She comforts the everyman in his distress and accepts her own debilitation with a sadness tinged with optimism for recovery. It is Phoebe who clearly points out the roles in which she and the everyman are pushed by his actions. She rails without mercy against being the “pathetic” cheated on wife, while the everyman has fallen into playing the cheating husband, the liar who destroys himself even as he controls others with his lies. It is Phoebe who forms the only significant voice of moral judgement on the everyman while he is alive.