Vanity Fea

The plot of Volpone

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

The plot of VOLPONE

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

or The Fox, a comedy by Jonson, performed by the King's Men in 1605-6, printed 1607.
Volpone, a rich Venetian without children, feigns that he is dying, in order to draw gifts from his would-be heirs. Mosca, his parasite and confederate, persuades each of these in turn that he is to be the heir, and thus extracts costly presents from them. One of them, Corvino, even attempts to sacrifice his wife to Volpone in hope of the inheritance. Finally Volpone overreaches himself. To enjoy the discomfiture of the vultures who are awaiting his death, he makes over his property by will to Mosca and pretends to be dead. Mosca takes advantage of the situation to blackmail Volpone, but rather than be thus defeated Volpone chooses to reveal all to the authorities. They direct that Volpone shall be cast in irons until he is as infirm as he pretended to be, Mosca whipped and confined to the galleys, Corvino made parade in ass's ears, and his wife be returned to her family with a trebled dowry. A secondary plot involves Sir Politic Would-be, an English traveller who has absurd schemes for improving trade and curing diseases, and his Lady, a loquacious, hectoring pedant. Sir Politic is chastened when Peregrine, a wiser English traveller, pretends to have him arrested for treason. The names of the principal characters, Volpone (the fox), Mosca (the fly), Voltore (the vulture), Corbaccio (the crow), Corvino (the raven), indicate their roles and natures.


This plot is summarised by Jonson himself in an acrostic poem at the start of the play:

                 The argument
V olpone, childless, rich, feigns sicks, despairs,
O ffers his state to hopes of several heirs,
L ies languishing: his parasite receives
P resents of all, assures, deludes; then weaves
O ther cross plots, which ope themselves, are told.
N ewe tricks for safety are sought; they thrive: when bold,
E ach tempts the other again, and all are sold.


A film version from the 1940s—in French, unfortunately. And a video of the epilogue.

Ben Jonson

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