Ben Jonson's Volpone: Issues and Considerations
- The opening scene of the play (1.1.1-27) is often considered a satire
of some sort on the Catholic Mass. If this is so and considering that Jonson was a
Catholic at the time of the writing, why would the author include such a scene?
- Volpone is set against a background of decadence and
corruption in Venice. Renaissance (and Enlightenment) England was publicly
suspicious of the supposed corruption that traveling to Italy brought. How does
Jonson use this background to further the themes and purpose of his play? Are the
- How much is Volpone a play shaped by monetary fears and
concerns? How much is it a play about the use and abuse of authority?
- How would you map out the ascent, climax, and denouement of the main
plot? Where does the scene between Celia and Volpone fall? Where do the two
court scenes belong?
- What is the purpose of the subplot involving Sir Pol, Lady Pol, and
Peregrine? Does it in any way reflect on the larger plot?
- What is the role of Nano, Castrone, and Androgyno?
- How would you play the court Avocatori? Are they primarily
serious or farcical characters?
- How complicit are we as a audience with Volpone and Mosca's vices?
Are they too attractive (at first) as characters? Why is Volpone given a
chance to address the audience in the closing speech?
- Is this a comedy? How do you account for the punishments
awarded at the end, the vulgar attempted rape by Volpone, and the play's more serious
moments? Is the ending comic?
- Does this play have (in the end) a positive, ethical message?
If so, what is it? If not, why not?