Flashcards in Act/Scene summaries in Volpone Deck (18):
Act i: Scene i
*Volpone and Mosca*
-Volpone begins by praising his gold, his most prized possession, and explaining to Mosca that he enjoys acquiring the gold more than possessing it
-Mosca claims Mosca is not a miser (doesn't hoard money) but spends it freely, invoking him to give him money
-Volpone does not target the weak or vunerable
- Volpone reasons that he has no family ties or important causes to support, so relishes in tricking the heir hunters
Act i: Scene ii
*Mosca, Nano, Androgino, Castrone*
-Mosca has written a play of sorts for Volpone, which is performed by the other entertainers
-Play is based on metempsychosis or Greek idea of transmigration of souls (souls moving to a new body at death until the soul becomes immortal)
-Volpone is pleased with the play
-Nano and Castrone serenade him on the joys of fools: they are the only group worth attention as they make others merry, even their faces provoking laughter, they are truthful as they are naïve ect ect...
-Voltore knocks at the door, with a large piece of plate that excites Volpone
- Volpone is made to look sickly. He is dressed in night clothes, his eyes are anointed and he feigns various illnesses
Act i: Scene iii
*Mosca and Voltore*
- Mosca assures Voltore that Volpone that he is held above the rest of the heir hunters
- Voltore presents Volpone with an antique piece of plate (gold or silver)
-Volpone feigns death, and Mosca reveals that Voltore is his heir
-Mosca pleads to Voltore to share the wealth, as he is Volpone's servant and will be destitute without his patronage
-Mosca claims Volpone admires Lawyers who can talk for both sides, and take gold from both sides
- Mosca again pleads to Voltore for patronage when he is rich, and ushers him out as another approaches
Act i: Scene iv
- Corbaccio arrives, and is pleased to hear that Volpone is worse than before
- Mosca and Corbaccio discuss the dangers of physicians, as if they are ascribed your heir they will poison you, and experiment on you even as you pay for their service
- Corbaccio enjoys hearing how he has suffered stroke (apoplex), and how there is leaking brain fluid - a sign of immanent death
- Mosca reveals Volpone hasn't made a will, but Voltore has offered plate, so Corbaccio offers sequins (Venitian currency) which is compared to an elixir
- Mosca advises further that Corbaccio: Volpone shall recover, and be shown the gold, then Corbaccio will write a will subscribing Volpone as the sole heir and disinheriting his son. He will outlast Volpone and in the long run he and his son shall inherit a fortune
- Mosca mocks him as he leaves, saying "rook go with you raven, saying his knowledge is comparible to his deafness (ears) and then likening him to an ass
- Volpone praises Mosca for his work, and with comtempt discusses how Corbaccio feels his afflictions in old age have been reversed by this fortune
Act i: Scene v - Corvino arrives to Corvino leaves
*Corvino, Mosca, Volpone*
- Mosca tells Corvino that, at last, Volpone is near death
- Corvino has brought a pearl and diamond, which Volpone can only sense by touch as he is so absent in mind
- Mosca tells Corvino that Volpone longs only for him as his heir and the other heir hunters have been sent home empty handed
- Mosca says Volpone has no family, only bastard children (the dwarf, the fool and the eunuch are claimed to be his)
- Corvino and Mosca take turns to shout abuse at the comatosed Volpone
- Mosca urges him to leave the pearl and diamond, as all that is Volpone's will soon be Corvino's anyway.
- Corvino is convinced now that Mosca is is faithful companion, who shares all but his wife
Act i Scene v - Corvino leaves to end of act i
-Volpone is pleased with the morning's purchases, better than robbing a church. He wishes not to see any more and turns away Sir Poltic and Lady would be
-Mosca believes Sir Politic is lenient with his wife as she is not pretty enough to attract attention, unlike Celia who is perfect and compared to gold.
- Volpone longs to see her, but Mosca says it is impossible as she is closely guarded by her jealous husband, Corvino.
- Volpone insists on seeing her, and will do through her window, possibly in some disguise, but he must maintain his appearance as an old man
Act ii Scene i - Politics motives for travel to Lady Would be's affairs
*Sir Politic Would-be and Peregrine*
- Sir Politic explains that he has not travelled to spread a religion or see countries, nor out of disaffection for Venice, but to learn man's mannerisms and customs
- Politic asks Peregrine to confirm that a crow has nested in the King's ship (a bad omen in two senses), which makes Peregrine think him foolish. He questions whether Politic is tricked, or is himself being deceived
- Politic calls hiself a poor knight, and says Lady Would-be 'lies' in Venice with the courtesans for information on fashions and culture. She is a 'bee' whilst the male customer is a 'spider', yet they go to the same 'flower' (the courtesans) for different reasons
Act ii Scene i - Lady Would-be's affairs to end
- Politic and Peregrine discuss several more increasingly ridiculous omens: Fires at Berwick, Porpoises fished from the Thames, a whale trapped by the tide in the Thames at Woolwich which Politic believes was sent by the Spanish, the death of a fool (Master Stone) in England. Stone is believed by Politic to have been a spy receiving messages in fruits and meats. Peregrine proposes the Baboons recently to arrive in London zoo are also spies
-Peregrine remarks that Politic would be good in an English play, and that he would not admit to being ignorant of anything
- Politic admits to not being intimately involved in the affairs of state (the active torrent) but knows some details (the ebbs and flows of state)
-Perigrine says he learned some customs from a book of vulgar (common) grammar, which had customs in it. Written by Johnson's friend John Florie
- Politic holds Peregrine's tutor, and others, in contempt for valuing practical>contemporary knowledge and being all 'bark' (shallow, but also talkative?). Irony in that Peregrine is all of these things, and claims to have tutored "Persons of blood and honour"...
Act ii: Scene ii
*Mosca and Nano, disguised as a Mounteback's assistants
- Sir Politic tries to convince Peregrine that mountebacks are some of the most eminent scholars and physicians in Europe. Peregrine is not convinced
- Volpone, as Scoto of Mantua, asserts that he is not willing to part with his ailments at a cheaper price than their worth as they are quality. He is not a street seller telling old tales from Boccaccio's book of 100 tales. He holds in contempt those selling cheap medicine to "salad eating" artisans
- Volpone stresses the importance of health, "who can buy thee at so dear a rate, since there is no enjoying this world without thee?" and that gold cannot provide it, but...
- Volpone's ointment can cure an imbalance of the humors and several other problems (dizziness, epilepsy, cramps). Likens it's worth to the Aesculapian Art (epitome of medicine)
- None other has made an oil like it, though others have tried. Complex production process, as at the last decoction it goes up in smoke. He has valued study>pallone (a game, the irony!)
- Volpone lowers the price from eight to six crowns, though he said he wouldn't
- Volpone offers an added extra, a powder to stop the signs of ageing, to the oil to they who throws their handkerchief. Celia does so from her window. An allusion is made to Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta who is given to Paris of Troy by Hector which starts a war. - Appropriate analogy?
-*Two interludes of Ballads sing by Mosca and Nano*
Act ii: Scene iii
- Corvino interrupts the mounteback performance, with an inadvertently comical continuation of Volpone's previous line ("...that were black as -" // Corvino: "Blood o' the devil...)
- Corvino believes he has stumbled upon a commedia dell'arte performance. He likens Volpone to Flamino the young lover, Celia to Franciscina the maid, and himself to Pantalone, who was married to an unfaithful wife
- Sir Pol believes it some 'trick' of the state, showing he is determined to see beyond outward appearances
- Peregrine suggests it is some "design" (plot) towards Sir Pol, who is paranoid that he is being spied on as his letters are being intercepted. It is Peregrine's "mirth" (amusement) to taunt him so
Act ii: Scene iv
*Volpone and Mosca*
- Volpone describes how he is "wounded...not without", as he feels stricken inside by desire for Celia. He suggests that his liver, a symbol of love, "melts" and without her "refreshing breath" he will become " a heap of cinders" (he cannot live without her)
- Both agree it would be better if they had never known her
- Mosca says he is "bound in [his] conscience to release Volpone from his anguish
- Volpone likens him to a Guardian Angel
- Volpone might need to loose his disguise in case Celia recognises him as the Mounteback, but Mosca says if he can 'horn' him (make his wife unfaithful) there will be no need
- Volpone seeks assurance that he performed well, but Mosca says "I have not time to flatter you" and asks that as he prospers, Volpone should instead "applaud [his] art"
- Recurring use of language relating to money or gold: "Coin me" is to make into coins, "angel" and "crown" are both coins...
Act ii: Scene v
*Corvino and Celia*
- The scene unfolds as a rage by Corvino, with little dialogue from Celia
- Corvino begins ranting by criticising the Mounteback. He calls Volpone was "prating" (talking idly) with "strained action" (exaggerated expressions) and used a "dole of faces", dole meaning both to distribute and deceive. He accuses him of being cheap, wearing cheap metals and fake gold (saffron). He calls him a knave (crook)
- Corvino believes Celia has been promiscuous. she 'fans [her] favours forth; Corvino interprets her hiding her face behind a fan not as modesty but as flirtation. He makes sexually suggestive comments about Celia's desire to mount, a sexual pun suggestive also of mounting the Mounteback's stage. "The fricace for the mother" is the massaging of the womb, the bodily source of hysteria, though Corvino means this sexually too. He accuses the window of being a "bawdy light", a transferred epithet which implies irrational thinking?
- Corvino threatens her with a dagger, with danger comparable to a conjurer who leaves their magic circle to confront a demon, with sexual violence (sodomy), with death and finally with being made an anatomy; he will expose her faults, or more literally he will give her body to medical science
Act ii: Scene vi, Mosca's arrival to Mosca's pleading
*Mosca and Corvino*
-Corvino believes Mosca has arrived to say Volpone has died, but he says Volpone has recovered thanks to the Mountebank Scoto's oil purchased by Corbaccio and Voltore. Corbaccio and Voltore also payed for extremely expensive treatment at the College of Physicians. They recommended a poultice (ointment for the skin to speed healing), apes and dogs clasped to his breast, an oil from wild cat's skins, and lastly a young woman to sleep with him; this was the same cure given to King David in the Bible (Kings)
- Mosca claims he has come to ask for advice, as he does not wish to cross Corvino's purposes, but fears that others may report Mosca's "slackness" to Volpone, causing him to fall out of favour. This would be disastrous for Corvino, dependent on Mosca being in good favour with Volpone, and apparently for Mosca as well who is dependent on Corvino on whom he has his "whole dependence"
Act ii: Scene vi, Mosca's pleading to end
- Mosca rejects the idea that a courtesan could do it, as she may deceive them, get close to Volpone and cheat them of their inheritance. He notes that a physician, Signor Lupo, has offered his daughter. Mosca says this is acceptable because few will know and Volpone is not truly sexually active anymore ("forgetfulness has long seized his part").
- Corvino agrees that the act "is nothing" and says he should command his wife and emotions as fully as this doctor.
- He agrees that it shall be his wife
- Mosca exclaims that he is "directly taking posession!" and that he will "so posess him [Volpone] with it that the rest/Of his starved clients shall be banished all!" - recurrence of possession, to dominate?
- Corvino ironically says that his conscience fools his wit, and believes it was "truly-/Mine own free motion". Either he believes he has made the choice freely, or partially acknowledges Mosca's role yet seeks credit?
Act ii: Scene vii
- Corbaccio tries to console a crying Celia, saying that his anger was only a test for her and that the "lightness" of the situation (the slightness of the infraction) should have indicated to her that he wasn't really angry
- Corvino says that jealousy is "a poor, unprofitable humour" ...is this hypocritical?
- Corvino claims that women will have sex in spite of however many guards they are placed under, and that they can all be tamed with gold
- Corvino says he is confident in Celia and will prove it at the solemn dinner at Volpone's they are invited to (a reference to his intentions to prostitute her)
- Poetic rhyme scheme and alliteration is theatrical, possibly suggestive of dishonesty/insincerity? (appear/fear, see 't/it, world/gold + alliteration of "women...will...watches...world"
Act iii: Scene i
- Mosca appears egotistical as he praises himself, saying his "prosperous parts" grow
- He uses lots of lustful language (love, blood, wanton,
- He likens himself to a "subtle snake" and is "limber"
- Mosca sees parasites as being so ubiquitous that he wonders why the skills of a parasite is not a studied science. He views the world as only parasites and sub-parasites
- Mosca compares two types of parasites:
(i) Common parasites: earthly, and having only "bare town art". Recognising suitable targets to con, and inventing tales to lure them. To find food and sexual gratificaiton. Likens them to court dogs who fawn over their masters, bow and smile. Mere Zanies (common assistants).
(ii) True parasites: Precious and from heaven, not earth. Flattens his lord and sabotages the efforts of other parasites. Adaptability, vitality, multitasking and able to change his face appearance. These are born, not made, and use their art with no need to practice it.
Act iii: Scene ii
- Mosca seeks Bonario to tell him of the plot to disinherit him
- Bonario holds Mosca in disrepute for his "baseness", "sloth", "flattery" and "means of feeding"
- Mosca feigns shock, saying Bonario's "imputations" are too common. Irony in the plea for "Heaven" to be good to him
- Bonario sees that he is crying and apologises for being harsh
- Mosca says that he is forced to eat "careful bread" making a difficult living, have patience. He must make a lowly living "out of my mere observance" (dutiful service) as he was not born into money
- Admits to making lowly living, but to the accusations he says he would rather take the most difficult path to redeem Bonario's assessment of him. If he can't he would rather perish in pursuit of goodness
- Accused of (i) pulling friends appart (ii) dividing families (iii) betraying trust (iv) lying (v) flattered men and led them astray (vi) corrupting chastity (abstaining from sexual intercourse) (vii) self-loving (cf 3:1:1, "I fear that I may begin to fall in love with my most proseprous parts"...)
- Bonario apologises, believing it isn't acted and that weeping is a sign of "soft and good"