The Common Man follows Robert Hooke's extraordinary scientific career. Young Robert Hooke witnesses the King's execution and is haunted by his father's suicide. As Hooke matures, he overcomes disability to become Robert Boyle's assistant and curator of experiments at the Royal Society. Hooke survives the plague and the Great Fire, hoping that a post as London surveyor will bring him respect. Prominence escapes Hooke and he becomes confrontational, engaging in a famous dispute with Isaac Newton. When Hooke dies, impoverished, Newton destroys much of his work.