Some notes as a preface: Whenever one is about to analyze a character’s personality, S/he should take the character’s speeches and actions into consideration throughout the play so as to come up with the almost proper analysis. Q1) Is Volpone a miser or not? Why? Concerning that whether Volpone is a miser or not , we better first figure out what exactly a miser is. A miser is someone who has a great desire to possess money and hates to spend it. In my opinion Volpone is both a miser and vice versa.
Volpone is a miser in that view that he praises and admires his fortune and tries to increase it in any way possible, even if the way is by deceiving, manipulating or exploiting other people, i. e. , gaining gold is one of his main goals in his life. His great desire for gold can vividly be felt in his apostrophe “Good morning to the day, and next my gold/Open the shrine that I can see my saint”. We can also state that he is not a miser because of some reasons. First, in act1 scene 1, he gives Mosca (his lackey) some money and Mosca can freely touch his master’s gold and jewelry.
Secondly, in act one scene five, when Mosca mentions Celia, Volpone directly tries to get access to her even if it costs all his fortune. Especially while he is acting like a mountebank and provides the people with ointments (drug) without any charge. He is a kind of extravagant man who tries anyway possible with the aid of his fortune to make his dreams reality or to achieve his goals. So, it is likely not to be a miser at all. Volpone addresses Mosca “My better angel! Mosca, take my keys, gold, plate and jewels, all’s at thy devotion”. Q2) Is there any sense or point in the 3 buffoon’s acting of Pythagoras?
How does this performing is related to the main action of Volpone(the play).? The performance of Nano, Androgyno and Castrone in Act one scene two is a play within a play. This play within a play is for Volpone what Volpone is to us; that is ,the character, Volpone is the audience for the skit just as we are audience for the play Volpone. The reception of the play is as important and satirical as its content. In their performance, they show how the soul of Pythagoras(a Greek philosopher) is searching for and experimenting the bodies to figure out which one of the bodies is the most suitable.
Finally the body settles in a mule’s body. One point behind this performance is to foreshadow Volpone’s fate; it indirectly informs Volpone that someday his soul will be settled in an ass. But Volpone is not smart enough to comprehend or decode the indications in the skit. He just enjoys seeing the actors acting like fools. The main plot is directed by Ben Jonson to satirize the society in order to moralize. So, another point behind putting the skit is to tell Volpone what he is going to do not even jeopardize, but also ruins his life. inally Nano’s song about “fools” refers to himself(Volpone calls him his “fool”) but indirectly to Volpone. Q3) What does Mosca do and say to guarantee his master’s trust? Do you think that Volpone can trust him or not? Why? Mosca, from the beginning of the play, is doing everything for Volpone so as to gain his confidence (that is to trick him). Mosca is always flattering him by saying nice expressions and bringing outstanding ideas into his mind. Volpone utterly trusts his servant, thinking the servant has only his master’s best interest at heart. He proves his fidelity by any means.
Whenever his master gets into trouble, He is always there for him to help to loosen all the tight knits and to get over all the obstacles by thinking of new lies and tricks. For example, he helps Volpone in the Mountebank scene and also in deceiving the greedy clients. Another symptom which proves Volpone’s trust in Mosca is that he always kisses and embraces Mosca for the things he is doing for Volpone’s sake. “Excellent, Mosca! /come hither, let me kiss thee” the above quotation shows Volpone’s admiration toward Mosca. Q4) As for sir politic would be. Who is he ? why is he here in Venice?
What are his plans and projects? What does he think that he can accomplish here? How can sir politic be considered as parallel to Volpone? Sir politic would be is an English knight . He has already come to Venice because it was his wife’s wish that the two Sir politic and his wife are in Venice, for she desires to pick up some of the local culture(At that time Venice and Florence were the most interesting and important cities in all Europe because both cities were developed cities). He prides himself of knowing the ways of a gentleman. He shows himself as an English ambassador or as an educated politician.
His main target is to make money and for that he has some theories in mind to practice: he talks of “supplying the state of Venice with red herrings” second, he describes how the danger of tinderboxes could be controlled by regulating their size and their use at home. Third, he claims that using onions and bellows, the plague could be discovered among a ship’s crew before it could be transmitted to the population on land. Finally, he boasts that he could sell the state of Italy to the Turks . Sir politic can be considered as a parallel to Volpone in that view that both have plans and projects in mind.
Volpone knows how to hit the targets; how to put his thoughts in action and accomplish them successfully, but sir politic does not. Unlike Volpone’s, however, sir politic’s get-tich-schemes are not exploitative. ——————————————————————- Q5) discuss the dialogue between Sir Politic would be and Peregrine. What does this dialogue tell you about act one? Sir politic has heard some news which are very strange about his home country(England). So, he asks Peregrine whether they are far from reality or not.
Sir politic is a naive and gullible character; whatever rumor he hears, he immediately believes it. Their discourse tells us that some characters in act one as Voltore,Corbaccio and Corvino share the characteristic of gullibility. But the gullibility of the main characters in act one is inspired by their greed, while in the subplot instead of satirizing greed , Jonson attacks another selfish virtue, that of vanity. Q6) How does Volpone earn his money? What is his job? What are the jobs and careers that he rejects? Why? Trace the gold imagery in act one. Volpone (which means “fox” in Italian) is a rich man.
He earns money by deceit; he feigns sick and pretends that he is on the verge of death. His fellows bring him valuable gifts in the hope when Volpone dies they will be the sole heir. As he says he gains money “no common way”. Volpone takes more pleasure in the way he earns the money rather than having the money. He is proud that he is not a farmer, a butcher, a miller, a glassblower, a merchant or a glass blower. He rejects these jobs because he thinks that for example a farmer cultivates the ground to sow seeds, so the farmer hurts the farm or a usurer gives people money with some profit in return.
Volpone’s job is different from all the others. He just stays at home and others come and bring valuable gifts for him. So, he derives himself from that fault of morality. We better not to blame him for that but the clients who are extremely gullible in greed. ————————————————————————————————- Q7) what is Voltore’s profession? How does he abuse his job? What is Volpone’s attitude toward his job? Why? Act one scene three Voltore-the lawyer- whose name means “vulture” in Italian. He abuses his job for his own wishes.
He supports wrongdoings rather than keeping law. Volpore’s abuse of his profession is seen when he defends Volpone and Mosca and accuses Bonario of the crime of kidnapping Celia in the court house. According to Mosca’s profession, Volpone has always had admiration for lawyers and the way they can argue either side of a case at a moment’s notice. Mosca’s speech to Voltore about how much Volpone admires “legal profession” is an example of verbal irony, in that Mosca gives a speech in praise of lawyers actually insults them, as the things Volpone supposedly admires are essentially the ability to deceive and equivocate; it s also a dramatic irony because Voltore does not know that Volpone is a deceiver and therefore would probably admire this deceitfulness. Volpone also takes more pleasure in deceiving the ones who consider themselves wise, educated and sophisticated rather than deceiving a normal person. Q8) what is Corbaccio’s job? How does Volpone satirize him? What does Volpone say about the physicians? Why? ————————————————- Corbaccio ,whose name comes after a “raven” in Italian, is an elderly man, who, according to Mosca, is in much worse health himself than Volpone pretends to be.
Not only Corbaccio who believes that he is going to deceive Volpone, that Volpone actually believes that he cares for him and wants him to be well, but also the other clients do. Corbaccio is ready to go as far as to poison Volpone with “medicine” not only to quicken the process of receiving Volpone’s inheritance, which he is supposedly sure to collect, but more importantly just so that Corbaccio could say that he outlived “the great volpone”. Through Mosca’s speech to Corbaccio, we can say that Volpone does not believe in physicians nor their treatment because he thinks that doctors flay a man before they kill him.
Look the quotation “ that your physician should never be his heir,/ they flay a man before they kill him” Q9) what kind of gifts do the clients bring to Volpone? Why? What do Mosca and Volpone say and do to trick them? The clients bring a variety of gifts to Volpone. The situation is like that all of them are in a kind of competition. Each tries his best to bring more gold to guarantee his name to be included in the will. Volpone and Mosca are really intelligent in deceiving and playing with the mood, fantasy, hopes and wishes of the clients.
They follow some policies to further assure the clients. For example, on one side, Mosca asks Corbaccio to disinherit his sole son(Bonario) and to name Volpone as his sole heir in the hope when volpone dies he will double the fortune to his son and on the other side Volpone presents different faces to Voltore, Corbaccio and Corvino. Corvino has originally has a ring of high value, but instead of selling the ring for his “medicine”, he keeps it due to the sentimental value it possesses. It means that this ring is worth more to him than additional attempts to stay alive.
It is like a poor man selling the gold locket of his dead wife in order to buy a lottery ticket, with the difference of being that the poor man has a chance of winning and that Corvino does not even know that he has no chance. Voltore visits first with a golden plate then Corbaccio with a bag of coins finally Corvino with a pearl and a diamond. Metaphorically speaking, they all are like flies (parasites) hovering around a carcass (a dead body) Q10) what is a mountebank? How does volpone pose like a mountebank? Compare his role as a mountebank to that of a dying man . hich role is more impressive and successful? Why? A mountebank, is a renaissance Italy version of the nineteenth century American medicine show men, is acting like a doctor but he wanders from here to there to sell his drug to people and getting money in return( usually mountebanks are tricky people and they sell fake drug). Volpone is pretending to be scoto of mantua ( a famous Italian mountebank) . He acts as a professional and experienced mountebank and he makes people believe what he is advertising for is really helpful and original.
I think Volpone’s role as a dying man is more impressive snd successful than acting like a mountebank because at the former role, when he feigns sick and can deceive the three fortune hunters into believing that he is really sick. So, in result he could receive a variety of gifts from them. ) Here he could achieve his goal). But in the latter role, he can hit the target which is catching a prey. He also fails acting like a real mountebank. When he sees Celia, he forgets that he is acting and starts to talk about his passion and love toward Celia (he somehow loses balance). What is remained to say is that Volpone is a dynamic character,i. , he can disguise himself and transform himself to whoever he wishes. ————————————————————————————————- Q11) what makes celia to throw her handkerchief? Explain her motifs. How does this enrage Corvino? How does her husband interpret this action? What kind of punishment does he impose on Celia? Act two scene four The handkerchief which Celia throws to volpone is a classical Elizabethan symbol of affection and intimacy. Considering that in Jonson’s era, the exchange of a handkerchief was seen as flirtation art.
Celia tosses her handkerchief to volpone because of her innocence. She does not know that throwing a handkerchief has a symbolic interpretation. It is fair for us as an audience not to blame her for that fault but her husband. Celia is heavily guarded among four walls and a ceiling. she is being oppressed and deprived from outside world and it is her right not to be aware about the traditions and customs. Corvino is known as a jealous husband because he is never ready to give freedom to his wife. He uses her as an object or his property. He prefers to lock her up in a custody room like as a prisoner.
Seeing celia throwing a handkerchief to a foreigner is enough to send him off . even though that celia hasn’t had enough freedom to start having an affair with the mountebank yet he can not digest celia’s fault and forgive her. On the contrary he starts to beat her as a child, using bad against her and accusing her of bringing shame to him. Finally he imposes some severe punishments on her like from now on she will never be allowed out of the house, never allowed to go within two or three feet of a window, and forced to do everything backward, talk backward, dress backward, walk backward.
If she fails to obey, he threatens that he will dissent her in public as an example of a woman lacking virtue. Q12) Later, what makes Corvino to revoke his punishment so suddenly? Act two scenes Vii. What does he suggest celia do instead? What makes corvine change 180 degrees is mosca’s proposal. How? When mosca presents him with an opportunity to prostitute his wife for the gain of money, he is quick to lose his honor and virtue in exchange for the inheritance. By fabricating a story about Dr. lupo ( meaning “wolf’) offering his daughter to volpone , mosca convinces corvine to give celia up to volpone.
Concentrate how interesting and intense the situation is! He can convince corvine to willingly become the thing that he is most afraid of becoming-cuckold. After mosca leaves, corvine goes to console celia, telling her that he is not jealous anymore and was never jealous. Jealousy is unprofitable, he says, and he promises that he will find just how un jealous he is at he feast in volpone’s house, cryptically alluding to his decision to prostitute her. In my opinion, Corvino’s overriding vice is greed, not jealousy. ————————————————————————————————-Q13)
Why volpone is set in Italy. Venice? What does the setting serve in the play? The play,volpone, is set in Venice because of the following reasons: First, it is a port city, with many ships coming and going in other words it is a city of business transaction. Second, Italy was seen as a corrupt and decadent place, full of liars, swindlers, immoral hedonists, and English men who traveled there risked bringing the moral contagion of deceit and of vanity back to the mother country, as if introducing a previously unknown disease to their home land.
Indeed Venice was a corrupt , decadent city as well; as we can see from the main plot, where every single character is engaged in some king of deceit. Jonson’s portrayal of venetian life fully buys into the stereotype. Thirdly, it is set in Venice to give a sense of distance. Q14) Discuss the role of money-oriented community in volpone. The role of a money-oriented community is to make immoral individuals. With the rise of capitalism, morality declines/collapses. A money-obsessed society paves the way for people to sacrifice their honor, dignity, respect, formality and virtue just for the sake of earthly concerns (wealth) and luxury.
In result, narcissist ( self-centered) people would appear. ————————————————- In volpone by Ben Jonson, see how Voltore abuses his job, Corbaccio disinherits his son, Corvino prostitutes his wife for the exchange of being named in volpone’s will. Even volpone himself is part of a society which values wealth above religion also above personal relationships. How far is this satire related to our contemporary age? Even in our contemporary age, still some people exist that completely share the same characteristics of volpone’s characters.
Nowadays, there are people like voltore who abuses his post for his personal interests. We have some people like volpone who earn money without any hardwork, but rather by manipulating others for his own profits. Q16) What is the central point in the play? Ben jonson wanted through his satirical comedy to convey the evils of greed, vanity, temptation and moral sickness. He wanted to shed a light on the follies and immoralities of human being. He criticizes the age and the period. The play depicts hypocrisy and vices of human.
In addition, the fact that sir politic would be and peregrine are from England signifies that jonson did not intend to exempt his home country from criticism. It also tells people that “virtue is rewarded and vice is punished” Q17) what kind of ethics are advocated here? Ben jonson created this play for a didactic purpose(that is to moralize people). Of course, he advocates a variety of deeds. He wants people to be loyal, honest, trustworthy, virtuous, to love each other, to keep friendships and to protect their family. He simply wants to inform people to be good and not to repeat the wrongdoings of the characters.
Q 18) Evaluate mosca’s role as a servant. Mosca, on the surface, is the perfect servant, he is willing to lie and cheat so as to gather more gold for his master. But Mosca has a secret goal; that is to gain possession of volpone’s great wealth. Because he plans to own it himself one day, he is eager to increase his master’s riches. He will do his best for that precious, beautiful gold. He tells a different set of lies to each visitor. Mosca knows quite well how to use another’s greed to satisfy his own. As a matter of fact, he is quite conceited about his cleverness.
Unlike his master, who is moody, mosca is dispassionate. While volpone’s child like in his love of gold, mosca is deadly serious. It might be said of him that ” he would sell tickets to his grandmother’s funeral” . Mosca does not care whom he hurts and what rules he breaks by an action as long as it brings him more gold. Mosca is like a snake; he can adapt himself according to the environment. He pretends to be fool and stupid, but it is exactly the opposite. Finally, in his soliloquy , we can feel that mosca is becoming less satisfied with his identity as a lackey to volpone.
In act three scene one volpone serves as a zany and mosca as a master. The roles become upside down. Q 19) How does sir politic would be enter this scene? What makes her nervous and worried? Why? How do you wxplain her discussion with volpone? What does this discussion tell you about her personality? Why is she from London? What point does jonson seek to highlight here? What comments about people in his home country? What vice is ridiculed here? Lady politic would be comes to give volpone a visit in act three scene four. Lady politic’s first visit to volpone is at act two scene . he is continuously minding her appearance and clothes. She begins a very one-sided conversation, advising volpone, discussing the various Italian poets and their relative weaknesses. Ben jonson put sir politic and his wife in a subplot in the play so as not to exclude his home country (England) from criticism. She is the female example why English people should never go to italy unprepared, and the moral decadence they can fall into once they reach there. She also embodies the dangers of becoming too engrossed in Italian culture. “I have read them all” , lady politic says.
From her discourse to volpone we can see that she, like her husband, desires to be seen knowledgeable, to fit in and impress others. Those people around her become exhausted because of her being talkative. She can not understand volpone’s intention and indications telling her to shut up ant the hell out of there. “ the highest grace of women is silence”. Gullibility is also ridiculed here. When mosca tells her that he saw her husband with a courtesan in a gondola, she immediately believes him without leaving a space for questioning. Another vice which is also ridiculed here is vanity( be interested in your appearance and achievements)