Broad Questions, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, Honours, Honours 3rd Year, Main Text, Short Question, Summary, Summary & Analysis, Themes

Ben Jonson’s Volpone: Summary, Analysis & Characters

Volpone Summary

Volpone, wealthy and childless, maybeconfidence man who attracts legacy hunters by pretending to get on the verge of death. Volpone’s “clients” – including Corvino, Corbaccio, Voltoreand woman Would-be Politic – bring him presents within the hopes of being included in his will. At the opening of the play, Volpone delivers a soliloquy during which he literally worships his gold while his servant Mosca, often called his Parasite, flits around and periodically interrupts him with flattery. Nano, Castrone, and Androgyno – Volpone’s buffoons – enter and perform a skit which provides a sarcastic account of the transmigration of Pythagoras’s soul. the doorway of Voltore, a lawyer, dispatches the buffoons.

Voltore brings an antique plate and is told he is going to be Volpone’s sole heir. Corbaccio and Corvino enter in succession, bringing a bag of gold coins and a pearl, respectively, and also are told that they’re going to be heir to Volpone’s fortune. Mosca is liable for their deception, including Corbaccio’s fallacy that disinheriting his son Bonario will eventually pay dividends. Lady Would-be also involves the door but is told to return later. Mosca describes the sweetness of Corvino’s wife Celia to Volpone, who decides he must see her for himself. They comply with attend her house in disguise.

Fellow Englishmen Sir Politic Would-be and Peregrine are seen within the public square outside Corvino’s house at the opening of Act Two. They discuss a series of rumors involving animals that Sir Politic interprets as bad omens for the English state. Mosca and Nano interrupt their discussion as they enter to line up a stage. Volpone, disguised as a mountebank, takes the stage and delivers a sales talk for an elixir. When he asks for a handkerchief from the audience, Celia throws hers right down to him. Corvino enters and furiously disperses the gang.

Back at his house, Volpone swoons for Celia. He gives Mosca permission to use his fortune in whatever way is important to woo Celia. At Corvino’s house, Corvino sharply reprimands Celia for showing prefer to a mountebank. He brandishes his sword and threatens her with physical violence before Mosca knocks on the door. Mosca tells Corvino that Volpone is on the mend but needs a female companion to take care of his health. After due consideration, Corvino offers Celia and goes to inform her to organize for a feast at Volpone’s house.

Act Three begins within the street with a soliloquy from Mosca regarding the supposed superiority of natural-born parasites compared to learned parasites. Bonario enters and scorns Mosca, who breaks down crying. Mosca then tells Bonario that Corbaccio plans to disinherit Bonario. Mosca offers to bring Bonario to hear it for himself. Back at Volpone’s house, the entertainment provided by Nano, Castrone, and Androgyno is interrupted by the doorway of Lady Would-be, who talks Volpone’s ear off and brings him a cap she made herself.

Mosca enters and dispatches together with her by telling her he saw her husband Sir Politic on a gondola with another woman. Mosca hides Bonario so that he may witness the conversation with Corbaccio. However, Corvino and Celia arrive early and Mosca is forced to maneuver Bonario to the gallery. After considerable deliberation, Celia is forced to be alone with Volpone, who reveals to her that he’s not sick. Volpone offers her his fortune, but she declines. even as he begins to force himself on her, Bonario leaps out and rescues Celia, exiting through the window. Mosca, who has been wounded by Bonario, enters and attends to Volpone. Mosca then convinces Corbaccio and Voltore to travel after Bonario.

At the opening of Act Four, Sir Politic and Peregrine discuss the ways of a gentleman. Sir Politic details his get-rich-quick schemes, one among which involves selling the Venetian state to the Turks. Lady Would-be enters and accuses Peregrine of being a lady who is seducing her husband. Mosca enters and convinces Lady Would-be that her husband’s seducer is Celia. Though Lady Would-be apologizes to him, Peregrine vows revenge on Sir Politic for his humiliation.

At the Scrutineo, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino, and Mosca get their story straight. Though they side with Bonario and Celia at the opening of the case, the Avocatori eventually align themselves with Voltore, who argues that Bonario committed adultery with Celia and attempted to kill his father. Lady Would-be testifies that Celia seduced her husband. Bonario and Celia haven’t any witnesses of their own so that they lose the case.

Volpone’s soliloquy at the start of Act Five foreshadows his punishment at the top of Act Five. He complains that, during the court case, he began to feel the pains that he has been faking for therefore long. He downs a glass of wine to “shake it off” (5.1.8) and Mosca enters to celebrate their unsurpassable masterpiece. Mosca goads Volpone to start cozening his “clients,” so Volpone writes a will naming Mosca as heir and spreads the word that he’s dead. When Volpone’s “clients” enter and find out that they need to be been duped, Mosca berates them one by one as Volpone looks on from behind the curtain. Volpone and Mosca plan to disguise themselves and continue tormenting the “clients” within the street.

At Sir Politic’s house, Peregrine plays an antic on Sir Politic. Pretending to be a messenger, Peregrine tells Sir Politic that he has been reported for his decision to sell Venice to the Turks. Sir Politic panics, instructs his servants to burn his notes, and hides under an outsized tortoiseshell even as three merchants, dressed as a statesman, enter the house. Once the merchants discover Sir Politic under the shell, Peregrine tells him they’re even and leaves. Sir Politic decides to go away to Venice forever since his reputation has been so damaged.

In the street, Volpone, disguised as a Commendatore, torments Corbaccio, Corvino, and Voltore by pretending he has heard the news that they inherited a fortune. Voltore cracks and goes to the Scrutineo to confess that he lied during the previous court case. He gives his notes to the Avocatori but when Volpone, still disguised, tells him that Volpone remains alive, Voltore retracts his confession and pretends he was possessed while making it. While debating over whether to show himself in, Volpone discovers that Mosca has locked him out of his own house. After being summoned by the Avocatori, Mosca arrives at the Scrutineo and affirms that Volpone is dead. Volpone beseeches him to mention that Volpone remains alive, but Mosca demands half his fortune. When Mosca and Volpone cannot comply with share the fortune, Volpone is apprehended by officers of the court. Before he’s led away, however, Volpone unmasks himself and brings Mosca down with him. The Avocatori then pass on punishments to Volpone, Mosca, and therefore the remainder of the “clients.” To conclude the play, Volpone speaks to the audience and asks for applause.

ben joson Volpone

Volpone Analysis

Volpone’s house
Volpone’s house (vol-POH-nay). Home of the Venetian magnifico, whose name means “fox.” With an outer gallery or lounge for dupes and a stunning treasure cache, piles of gold, plate, and jewels hidden behind the rear-stage curtain, Volpone’s home is a handy location for storing the rich gifts of solicitous visitors. When guests are present, the drawn curtains hide this shrine to wealth, and therefore the foxlike Volpone stretches out on his sickbed in gown, furs, and nightcap, as his servant, Mosca, ushers within the assorted base creatures.
Hiding places are important to the present set, for Bonario must observe Volpone’s revelation of ardent passion unseen, even as Voltore must overhear Mosca and Corbaccio. Curtains close around Volpone on his couch as Mosca at a desk inventories the supposed inheritance of hopefuls.
Corvino’s house
Corvino’s house (Kohr-VEE-noh). Home of a Venetian merchant, near St. Mark’s Place. the situation attracts pickpockets, con artists, and schemers of each stripe. Corvino’s wife Cecelia looks down from a balcony, which opens into an area in Corvino’s house where he chides her. ahead of the house, Mosca and a servant erect a stage for a drug vendor to display his wares, and a disguised Volpone mounts the platform and haggles over high-priced quackery.
The period from 1576 to 1642 is taken into account the Golden Age of English drama, although it had been probably not golden for those that lived through it. For quite 100 years, farmers had been displaced by enclosure acts that fenced off agricultural land for pastures. This created severe unemployment within the countryside with accompanying high inflation. Crop failures, the threat of war abroad, and brutal religious strife had shaken English society by the time Elizabeth assumed the throne in 1558. The reign of Elizabeth produced relative stability, but her failure to call a successor brought discontent and therefore the threat of war even before her death. The rule of James I was greeted initially with enthusiasm in 1603, but religious, class, and political divisions soon intensified. Despite this turmoil, or perhaps due to it, the foremost important drama in Western history was produced during this era. Rural unemployment drove many of us to London, making it the most important city in Europe. However, attempts at polity led to widespread disorder and therefore the establishment of a capitalistic economy in situ of the feudal agrarian social order. The writers of this era grappled with new ideas about science and philosophy, religion, and politics. additionally, there was also a replacement emphasis on individual thought, action, and responsibility.
Playwrights thought of themselves as poets but weren’t considered serious artists, very much like we regard screenwriters today. Playwrights clothed a billboard product. Once sold, plays became the property of acting companies and when published, were more likely in touch the name of the acting company than the writer’s name it had been not until the seventeenth century when Jonson published his plays (in 1616) and a folio of Shakespeare’s works were published (in 1623), did the thought that plays have literary merit occur.

But because plays weren’t considered serious literature, playwrights had the chance to affect any subject that interested them. In 1576, the primary permanent theatre was built. This led to a greater social station for theatre people. the situation was out of town, thanks to religious problems. Puritans thought actors were sinful, with substandard morals, because the social milieu of the playhouse was loose and sometimes libertine. There was also the philosophical argument that acting was lying, role-playing. Despite those problems, plays brought large numbers of individuals together and correspondingly increased crime and disease, so city officials often sided with Puritans in wanting theatres outside town. Theatres also enticed people from their jobs then affected trade.

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