Volpone Test | Final Test - Easy
Mosca then tells Corvino the doctors have ordered that Volpone should enter in a sexual relationship with a young woman. a strange story teller, and Lady Politick Would Be, who tests Volpone's patience with her constant babbling. In Act I, Scene i, it is shown that Volpone and Mosca enter on the scene and Volpone worships his gold. . He tells her that he has spoken to her roughly just to test her and that he is .. must bear a proportionate and harmonious relationship. That means that Mosca is dependent on Volpone for his livelihood and for his very survival. However weird their relationship seems in the.
Theatre, as Paul Whitfield White points out, had become "a metaphor to expose the hypocrisy, deceitfulness and spiritual emptiness of the wicked usually associated with Roman Catholicism.
Alvin Kernan's description of Volpone as a "high priest of the new cult"  locates him within this interpretation but I would argue that Volpone is configured in this play as a priest not only of the new cult of money but as a priest of the old cult, Catholicism, and furthermore is associated particularly with that most demonised of all Catholic clergy in anti -Roman propaganda, the Jesuit.
Although it could be argued that in the Epistle Jonson criticises those who force a reading of his play for particular purposes, paradoxically he appears to be commanding the reader to play particular attention when he instructs the reader "look into them. Where personal, except to a mimic, cheater, bawd or buffoon, creatures for their insolencies worthy to be taxed?
Literature Notes: Volpone | CliffsNotes
Yet, to which of these so pointingly, as he might not, either ingeneously have confessed, or widely dissembled his disease. As I have shown mimic and cheater are synonymous with Catholic priests in the eyes of anti Papist attackers. Buffoon is a term for jester, mocker and juggler- descriptions which might be used to describe the priest at Mass. Finally bawd, as Jerzy Limon suggests, might also be one of the sexual insults aimed at so called corrupt clergy.
Further evidence that Jonson is drawing attention to his protagonist as a Jesuit priest is his use of the bestiary fox figure. Many critics have noted the moral dimensions of this analogy. However few critics have acknowledged the specifically satirical anti-Catholic or anti-Jesuit nature of the fox fable.
Knoll extensively discusses the debt Jonson owes to various bestiaries, including the Physiologus of Alexandria, a book from the second century AD which had entered into popular culture in England and in Europe. He argues that Jonson had two 16th century books in his library which drew on this earlier work. He also discuss other Fox stories which were part of a common stock of beast tales, including Caxton's version of the History of Reynard the Fox, which was a translation from the French Roman de Renard.
Knoll does note that the fox was synonymous with Catholic priests but argues that "though he was doubtless aware of the specific allegorical uses to which the fox stories had been put, Jonson's play is not allegorical".
On one we have the general association from Aesop of the fox as a wily and cunning trickster figure, taken a little further, and exploring other fox fables such as that of Reynard, we can begin to attribute aspects of cheating and dissembling more closely with the fox.
The titles of some Tudor plays, such as Bale's Yet a Course at the Romishe Fox and The Hunting and fynding out of the Romishe Foxe, attributed to Turner, suggest that Protestant dramatists were able to synthesise the fox's cunning with the trickster figure of the priest to relocate the accumulated attributes of the traditional figure into a target of reformation attack. In particular such plays might focus on the priest's performance of ritual drawing on the representation of the fox as a symbol of false piety.
Kenneth Varty, whose work on the representation of the fox figure in mediaeval and Tudor England has informed much of this study, details the way in which the association of the fox with cheating, dissembling and thus the devil became linked to the representation of hypocrisy and false religion and then used by critics of the church to attack priests. He includes pictures of carvings in many churches which depict the fox disguised as a priest whose dissembling enables him to prey on the unwary congregation who have gathered to hear his sermon.
That the congregation depicted is usually made up of various birds furthers an analogy between the tales and Jonson's play. In the carvings the fox is also depicted with an assistant who helps him out with his rituals. Thus the employment of commedia del'arte types in this scene reinforces the allusions to the Reynard tales and by association to anti- clerical imagery. Apes were often used as figures shown performing empty imitations of acts. Miri Rubin describes a "Mitred ape elevating the host" which is considered to be a symbol of "mock piety used to parody the ritual of the church.
It is youth-restoring and life-giving and the scene could almost be seen as a further parody of the mass. However I would like to argue that Jonson does not draw on this tradition simply in order to reinforce Volpone and Mosca as symbols of mock piety in an age where gold is the object of worship. I believe that there is a far more specific agenda which links the diabolical pair with that element of the clergy, the Jesuits.
Marotti details the demonisation of Jesuits following the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. He describes an "anti-Jesuit mythology" which "took deep root in British culture.
To this flesh belong adultery, covetousness, lust and murder. Jerzy Limon points out that the Jesuits are depicted here following a traditional Reformation association of Papists with the sins of sexual depravity, luxurious living, lechery and covetous of the wives of others. He describes how George Downame in compiles a catalogue of Jesuit faults giving a list of their "abominations against nature" and in James Wadsworth lists ten commandments of the Jesuits, with the tenth being "govern thy neighbour's wife.
Consequently he can be seen as a corrupt priest who is seen to invert the teaching of the seven cardinal virtues by the illicit and secret practice of sinful living. Volpone's seduction of Celia also epitomises the action of the lecherous priest who, according to Marotti, is accused of seducing women "into the subterranean vaults of their houses for bacchanalian revels.
Mosca too becomes incorporated in to the corrupt Priesthood. His name Mosca, meaning flesh fly, links him with the parasitic and corrupt clergy and his association with Beelzebub Lord of the Flies links him too with the devil, a reference reinforced with the description of himself as able "to skip out of my skin, now, like a subtle snake" III. Julian Yates describes a number of pejorative terms used to describe Jesuits such as "parasites, two-legged foxes, household enemies, locusts, venomous vipers, caterpillars and serpents in the bosome.
They are also Protean disguisers, appearing 'now a Cobler, now a Preacher, now a Tinker, now a Courtier, now a Peasan [peasant or country fellow]; now a States-man, and what not', 'the only contrivers of all the mischiefs in the World.
Not only is the Jesuit, according to polemic, "a chameleon," he also has the worrying ability to be able to change, transform or convert others. Those who ended up in a Jesuit seminary were, according to Thomas Bell, in danger of being "'transformed', 'Jesuitized', or 'Jesuited,'"  just as Jonson was presumably "seduced" by Father Wright and then charged with such seduction himself.
Jesuit priests then were associated with foxes, parasites, serpents and the devil. They were categorised as mimics, jugglers, tricksters and cheating charlatans, hypocritical actors and dissemblers whose doctrine of equivocation enabled them to dissemble the truth. Lecherous and sinful, they loved luxury and lived off their ill-gotten gains and, most dangerously, they were able to seduce others to their corrupt and deceptive ways. This reading has argued that Jonson's portrayal of Volpone draws on a tradition of Anti-Catholic polemic to create a dramatisation of a group of cunning characters who feign honesty to make money and who attempt to seduce youth and innocence.
This is not to say that this is the prime aim of the play, or what the play is about, but that contextual evidence gives such elements added resonance. Such a reading points to Jonson's deliberate and pragmatic detachment from Catholicism in a time when being a Catholic was very dangerous indeed. However this is somewhat complicated by an alternative reading in which Volpone has been identified by a number of critics, particularly Alvin Kernan, as a figure for Jonson himself.
The anti-clerical fox was, as I have shown, depicted as both a physician and a wandering minstrel. The correlation between Volpone and Jonson is furthered by contemporary references to Jonson as "our Fox of a poet"  which, while it may be a descriptive term for the composer of a famous and popular play, provides a more sinister link between Jonson and the Catholic powder plot.
William Slights notes the connections between the name Fawkes and Fox,  and Fawkes himself used the pseudonym Johnson, creating an interesting parallel. In addition to a political reading of the characters of the plays the Venice setting could be seen as significant, as Richard Dutton points out: In her detailed discussion of Catiline as a complex allusion to the Gunpowder Plot she argues persuasively that Jonson himself was actually a priest or was at least suspected of being so. She argues that his answer "For myself if I had bene a priest.
I would have put on wings to such Occasion. However in the Epistle Jonson links the function of the poet with that of the priest when he describes himself as being "a teacher of things divine no less than human. Apart from meaning to kill, to be insensible and to hang, as in game before eating, mortification has a religious term which means rejecting flesh and the devil in a form of abstinence.
This form of mortification follows confession and is a kind of penance in which the passions and appetites are subjected. This is true of Volpone but also true of Jonson who might consider himself to be mortified in his own submission.
In his letters from prison Jonson admits a sense of contrition.
Examine the relationship between Volpone and Mosca Essay
To Salisbury he protests that he has changed his approach to play writing: This punishment is also depicted in some church carvings where the fox is "stripped of his religious garb, footcuffed and transferred to the stocks"  and is a chilling echo of the punishment of those plotters who, unlike Jonson, were unable to convince the state of their innocence.
The plot was also known after in a popular rhyme which focused particularly on the Jesuit Priest Garnet as "Mischeefes Mysterie In his imitation of justice in the play Jonson echoes the punishment inflicted on recusants, a punishment he had felt some measure of himself. It could be argued though, that in binding himself to Salisbury, he had escaped one prison only to incarcerate himself in a prison of compromise and submission. Jonson might here be alerting both audience and authority to his full contrition.
However Jonson, like his trickster figures, could be seen as the "mobile demon of equivocation. It is often the wolf which is associated with corrupt clergy, as in Milton's Lycidas; Volpone is described by Mosca as "wolfish" V: However Brennan argues that while the wolf was a symbol of corrupt clergy the fox became a figure for a clergyman who might outwardly conform to Anglican practice while secretly worshipping as a Catholic.
A Papist passant is of other cullor, For hees not nice to let his zeale be showne, And that his works may make his glory fuller, Through echoing Mouths like trumpets are they blown: But that growing safe, he may be let to grow, Hee texts will cite, and wrest: Such references, to his self preservation, his flattery of the King in epigrams, his allusion to other texts and, I would argue, his abusing of his own conscience in Volpone, where he might be seen to "forsweare the Pope," all confirm Jonson's ambiguous role in State affairs.
Of particular interest here is the reference to Jonson's churchgoing. As DeLuna points out "though Jonson did not officially leave the Roman Catholic Church untilhe 'conformed himself' in the intervening years by attending Anglican services at least twice a year to avoid the stiff fines penalizing recusancy.
Jonson's final conversion is an uncanny echo of Volpone's drinking the sacramental wine at the beginning of act V: I have suggested two alternative readings here; one which sees Jonson as an anti-Catholic propagandist attacking the rites of the Roman church and the corrupt clergy who were represented as chameleon equivocators full of sin, greed, pride and lust; and a second, more convincing, but complex reading in which Jonson himself is equated with the energetic and vital trickster who is set to meet a harsh end in the stocks but ends by asking the audience to set him free.
The serious charges against Jonson were "stayed at seal. Donaldson suggests that it may have been his patron D'Aubigny. Herford and Evelyn Simpson, Ben Jonson. Oxford UP,I, All my quotations from Jonson are taken from this edition and henceforward reference will be given in the text.
It might even be argued that the Hinchenbrook incident of the portrayal of a dog with the host in its mouth could be a fox. Cited in in E. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage Oxford: Oxford UP,IV, Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: U of Chicago P, Richard Dutton, Mastering the Revels: Ian Donaldson, Jonson's Magic Houses: Essays in Interpretation Oxford: Oxford UP, Cambridge UP,and B. Clarendon, UP of Kentucky, ], Donaldson, Jonson's Magic Houses, De Luna argues that the high ranking status of these tutors for a playwright suggests that rejection of the Catholic ceremony in favour of the less ritualistic Anglican one might prove a public example of the true path Jonson's Romish Plot, Dutton, To the First Folio, A production by Tyrone Guthrie emphasised the sacramental ritual of this scene by having Volpone act out a "malicious parody of the mass.
Yale UP, Cited in Louis Montrose, "The purpose of playing: Phillip Brockbank notes that the Quarto edition is without stage directions although the Folio has twenty nine. He suggests that Jonson approved these latter Philip Brockbank, ed. Ernest Benn, ], introduction, xxxv. However speculation about stage business can only remain conjectural. Duffy, Stripping of the Altars, The issue of transubstantiation had exercised scholars since the 11th Century.
See Sarah Beckwith, Christ's Body: Satire of the English Renaissance New Haven: Yale UP,; L. Chatto,; John S. The Mortifying of the Fox," Essays in Criticism 25 Columbia UP, Reproduced in Lincoln Diocese Documentsed. Miri Rubin, Corpus Christi: Cambridge UP, Partridge notes that cannibalism in this play can be associated with a "parody of the communion," citing several instances in the play when Volpone makes a meal of gold and other precious objects Partridge, Broken Compass, Harold Skulsky also makes very detailed analysis of the cannibalism motif in "Cannibals vs.
Demons in Volpone," Studies in English Literature Keith Thomas, Religion and the decline of Magic Harmondsworth: Penguin, Hedrick, "Cooking for the Anthropopogi; Jonson and his audience," Studies in Engligh Literature 17, Beckwith, Christ's Body, Brewer, Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Axton, Three Tudor, Whitfield White, "Theatre and Religious Culture," Kernan, Cankered Muse, 1.
Jerzy Limon, Dangerous Matter: Knoll, Ben Jonson's Plays: U of Nebraska P, Kenneth Varty, Reynard the Fox Leicester: Leicester UP65, Dutton, To the First Folio Rubin, Corpus Christi, Keith Thomas describes how the host was often seen to have miraculous properties leading to people keeping it on hand as a form of charm or medicine Religion and the Decline of Magic, This was discouraged by the church but there are many details of the host being used in this way.
Julian Yates, "Parasitic Geographies: Yamada Yukimo suggests that "the fox is a synonym for cheater but also for the devil" Volpone and The Devil is an Ass: Varty, Reynard the Fox, Limon, Dangerous Matter, Yates, "Parasitic Geographies," Form and Development Cambridge: Cited in Marotti, Catholicism, Cited in Yates, "Parasitic Geographies," See especially Kernan, The Cankered Muse. David Riggs, Ben Jonson: A Life Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, De Luna, Jonson's Romish Plot, Chelsea House, Cited in Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason: Fraser, Faith and Treason, Donaldson, Magic Houses, Works Cited Axton, Marie.
Issues and Research Sources: You have seen, in Marlowe and Shakespeare, the strategies of pitting a subplot's comic agenda against that of a tragic main plot. How would you discuss sub-plot and main plot in this play?
What does that tell you about Volpone's basic strategy regarding the play's goals and his manipulation of the audience's sympathies? For instance, compare the characters of Volpone and Henry IV or Lear, and try to argue for which is the more attractive title character. Jonson argues, elsewhere, that drama should be evaluated with respect to some special forms of truth.
[EMLS (September, ]: Jonson's Romish Foxe
For instance, he considers "truth to type" as a good test of characters, asking whether that sort of person would have done what the character did. What kinds of normative judgments does this require, and how does that affect the play's socio-political agendas? Jonson parodies many classical lyric forms see below re: Catullus but his most outrageous is his first, a satire on the aubade or dawn song usually sung by a lover to the beloved and answered by her upon their seeing the first rays of light which end their illicit night of passion.
Volpone's, which begins Act I. His character here is almost a literal transcription of some medieval morality play "vice" figures. How does the first scene of this play compare with the first acts of Shakespeare's King Lear or Marlowe's Doctor Faustus? Which play do you think Jonson had most in mind when designing this first scene?
Where would you go in Shakespeare to find a similar meditation wherein a character reveals his soul, inner nature, strategy, etc.? A typical measure of dramatic structure is the relationship between chaos and order. As the comedy unwinds, chaos increases, and as it approaches its end, the chaos ought either to increase to a catastrophe duck blows up hunter, dog, hunter's house, doghouse or to a restoration of order duck returned to wild, hunter to home, dog to doghouse.
Generally speaking, many comedies approach an apex of their disorder around the third act. What's happening when Mosca walks on stage in III. Especially, how does his soliloquy illustrate the dangers of Count Canossa's prescription for a courtier's development in Hoby's translation of The Courtier? How might this relate to Jonson's politics in the Jacobean period, especially to the rise of new courtiers to power in James I's reign?
This play ends with the "Volpone" character coming to the edge of the stage to deliver a curious apology for the play's bad behavior and to ask the audience for forgiving applause. What does this suggest about Jonson's view of the play's "moral center" vs. The play's content and style draw upon an aesthetic trend called neoclassicism, a set of rules and habits of composition based on imitation of Greek and Roman classical models for literature.
You can see this in the prologue's boast about following the so-called "Aristotelian unities" of place, time and action. Volpone's paen to Celia III.
To read a Roman poem Jonson may have had in mind re: The short answer--get some rich old man to make you his heir! What does Catullus offer to seduce Lesbia and how does it differ from what Volpone offers to Celia? If this were part of Jonson's satire on English culture, who is its target?