Themes/Quotes - Volpone Flashcards Preview

English A2 > Themes/Quotes - Volpone > Flashcards

Flashcards in Themes/Quotes - Volpone Deck (27):
1

Greed

V - "Women and men of every sex and age, / That bring me presents, send me plate, coin, jewels / With hope, that when I die (which they expect / Each greedy minute) it shall then return / Tenfold upon them" - greed is the master passion of the play. It's all a game to Volpone - he enjoys 'playing with their hopes' - Volpone has brilliant virtuosity. Rather than exploiting the poor, he makes money in a much more fun way: cheating the rich - to "grind 'em into poulder" meaning to grind employees into power by exploiting them

M - “The weeping of an heir should still be laughter / Under a visor” – immoral, and greedy, avarice

V - "What a rare punishment / Is avarice to itself," - foreshadows Volpone's future punishment for greed

M - "you shall live, / Still, to delude these harpies" - harpies were mythical monsters that were part woman and part bird of prey; here, the suitors are hoping to feed on Volpone

2

Parasitism

M - "you know the use of riches" - flatters Volpone in hope of extracting a tip. Here, Mosca epitomises the parasite feeding off another and drawing nutriment directly from it. The parasite is at work.

M - “Alas, sir, I but do as I am taught; / Follow your grave instructions; give ‘em words; / pour oil into their ears, and send them hence”

M - "I am so limber. Oh! Your parasite Is a most precious thing, dropped from above, Not bred 'mongst clods and clot-poles, here on earth. I muse, the mystery was not made a science, It is so liberally professed! Almost All the wise world is little else, in nature, But parasites, or sub-parasites."

Mosca speaks these lines in soliloquoy in Act III, scene i, lines 7–13. Mosca is Volpone's "parasite", a lackey or servant almost completely dependent on Volpone for his livelihood. But in these lines, he professes that what defines him as a parasite-the fact that he must live off the wealth of another, instead of working hard to produce his own-is in fact characteristic of most "wise" (or intelligent) people in the world. The play will prove him right in claiming that parasitism is widespread, at least in Venetian society; Volpone, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino all are "parasites" to some extent. But the play's moral satire will attempt to refute his claim that this parasitism is, in fact, wise.

3

The Power of Stagecraft

Blind people often played the harp; hence the “blind harper” comes to typify the blind

4

The Sacred and Profane

V - "Good morning to the day; and next, my gold! / Open the shrine that i may see my saint"

V - "let me kiss / With adoration, thee, and every relic / Of sacred treasure in this blessed room" - money has become a thing of worship, act of blasphemy. The worth of gold as higher than the worth of spiritual redemption and excellence—in short, gold, not God, has supreme importance for him. This is an example of situational irony. Volpone praises the treasure in ecstatic religious terms, calling it "sacred", and "blessed", and exclaiming with hyperbole that his gold is brighter than the sun. This establishes two of Volpone's key character traits: his intense energy, and his worship of money (which we will soon see extends to all other means of self-gratification).
M - "Riches are in fortune / A greater good than wisdom in nature"

M - “stand there, and multiply” – blasphemous reference to God’s words to all living creatures at creation: “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:22 and 28) lending money to make interest was forbidden to Christians in Venice

V – “My divine Mosca” – refers to a parasite as divine

V - “Riches, the dumb god that giv'st all men tongues, / That canst do nought, and yet mak'st men do all things; / The price of souls; even hell, with thee to boot, / Is made worth heaven!”

V - "hail the world's soul and mine" - pun on 'sol' - the sun. Volpone regards gold as the controlling principle of the play

5

Deception, and Truth

Main:
V - "playing with their hopes, / And am content to coin 'em into profit [...] Letting the cherry knock against their lips, / And draw it by their mouths and back again / How now!"

V - "And not a fox / Stretched on the earth, with fine delusive sleights, / Mocking a gaping cow” - deceptive tricks of the fox

V - "my clients / Begin their visitation! Vulture, kite, / Raven and gor-crow, all my birds of prey / That think me turning carcass, not bye come - / I am not for 'em yet"

Extra:
V - "I feel me going - uh! uh! uh! uh! / I am sailing to my port - uh! uh! uh! uh! / And I am glad I am so near my haven"

M - “From his brain […] Flows a cold sweat, with a continual rheum, / Forth the resolvèd corners of his eyes”

V - “Mischiefs feed / Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.”

M - "[aside] Rook for with you, raven" - May you be deceived

6

‘Gulling’ (being made into a fool)

V - "playing with their hopes, / And am content to coin 'em into profit [...] Letting the cherry knock against their lips, / And draw it by their mouths and back again / How now!"

M – “Your worship is a precious ass –” – about Corbaccio

M - "Made for his mule, as lettered as himself" - referring to Voltore. Mules were ridden by lawyers on formal occasions, but were considered to be stupid; hence the insult that Voltore is as lettered (learned) as a mule

7

Venice

c

8

Animalization

the main characters in the play are somewhat "beastly"; they are acting out animal instincts, and not listening to the voice of conscience and reason; in short, they are not fully human.

V - “Mischiefs feed / Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.”

9

Con

V - "Yet I glory / More in the cunning purchase of my wealth / Than in the glad possession."

V - "playing with their hopes, / And am content to coin 'em into profit [...] Letting the cherry knock against their lips, / And draw it by their mouths and back again / How now!"

V - "Now, my feigned cough, my phthistic and my gout, / My apoplexy, palsy and catarrhs, / Help with our forced functions this my posture, / Wherein, this three year, I have miles their hopes"

M – “you shall have it all […] ‘tis your right, your own; no man / Can claim a part: ‘tis your right without a rival, / Decreed by destiny” – to Corbaccio

M – “there I asked him, / Whom he would have his heir? ‘Corvino.’ Who / Should be executor? ‘Corvino’” – to Corvino

10

Master and Servants

c

11

The Female

M - “She hath not yet the face to be dishonest” – on Celia

M – “all her looks are sweet / As the first grapes or cherries” – Eve, prelapsarian view on women”

M - "A beauty, ripe as harvest!, [...] And flesh that melteth in the touch of blood/ Bright as your gold, and lovely as your gold!" - on Celia. worshipped as a material possession, feminine traits, purity, and innocence. Volpone asks Mosca about Corvino's wife Celia. Mosca lavishly describes her, making her desirable to Volpone's desire for flesh by comparing her to gold.

12

Gullibility

Per. - "there was a whale discovered in the river. S.Pol. - "Is't possible? Believe it."

13

Vanity

the name Sir Politic-wouldbe makes a joke out of the fact that he is confident that he is knowledgeable

14

Virtue/Morality

Corv. - "Honour! tut, a breath: There's no such thing, in nature: a mere term Invented to awe fools."

Celia: Oh, God and his good angels! Whither, whither Is shame fled human breasts? That with such ease, Men dare put off your honours and their own? Is that, which ever was a cause of life, Now placed beneath the basest circumstance? And modesty an exile made, for money?
These lines are spoken in Act III, scene vii, just before Volpone's attempted seduction and then attempted rape of Celia. Celia's husband has effectively prostituted to Volpone, so that he might inherit Volpone's forunte. Celia here effectively Jonson's mouthpiece, citing what might be considered the thesis of the play. Namely, that even love and sex, the most intimate acts in human life, that create life, are now held to be less valuable than money; and that this inverted value-system has made men dishonorable and shameless in their pursuit of money.

15

Temptation

V - "Letting the cherry knock against their lips / And draw it by their mouths and bad again"

V - "See, here, a rope of pearl; and each, more orient Than the brave Egyptian queen caroused: Dissolve, and drink 'em. See, a carbuncle, May put out both the eyes of our St. Mark; A diamond would have bought Lollia Paulina, When she came in, like star-light, hid with jewels That were the spoils of provinces; take these, And wear, and lose 'em: yet remains an ear-ring To purchase them again, and this whole state."

These lines, again spoken in Act III, scene vii, might be considered Volpone's apotheosis. This is high point the play, and the fullest expression of his system of values. He offers Celia a life full of constant, yet expendable, pleasures; pearls one can drink, jewels one can lose, without a thought; unbridled hedonism without any care for the future. But when he runs up against Celia's steadfast Christian virtue, Volpone reacts with angry violence. But Bonario rescues Celia; Volpone panics, knowing he has been discovered, and begs Mosca to help him. It is the beginning of his downfall, for the increasingly dominant Mosca will eventually come to challenge Volpone for his estate.

16

Flattery/Praise

M - "You know the use of riches, and dare give, now,/ From that bright heap, to me, your poor observer,/ Or to your dwarf, or your hermaphrodite,/ Your eunuch, or what other household trifle/ Your pleasure allowed maint'nance" - Mosca flattering Volpone. His flattery is a means of extracting a tip from his master

M - "You shall live/Still to delude these harpies"

17

The Fool

"Fools, they are the only nation/Worth men's envy or admiration;.../E'en his face begetteth laughter,/And he speaks truth free from slaughter" - Skit performed by the fools Nano, Castrone and Androgyno. Mosca writes the song to concluded the entertainment for Volpone. It concludes to indicate that the fool's condition is best. Highlights that they are outsiders in society, because of this, they are free to speak their mind, often highlighting home-truths as they aren't regarded as responsible for their own actions as not human. "speaks truth free from slaughter" - free from Elizabethan constraints on society. Emphasis on theme of deception in play

18

the fox

- "Fetch me my gown,/My furs, and nigh-caps" - Volpone - furs suitable for a fox, night-caps = effect of fox's ears

- "and not a fox [...] a gaping crow" - reference to the fable of the crow that dropped its piece of cheese when it sang because of the fox's flattery. Volpone implies that such an engraving would be more appropriate

19

Disguise

V - "Now, my feigned cough, my phthistic and my gout, / My apoplexy, palsy and catarrhs, / Help with our forced functions this my posture, / Wherein, this three year, I have miles their hopes"

M - "Oh, no: rich/ Implies it. Hood an ass with reverend purple,/ So you can hide his two ambitious ears,/ And he shall pass for a cathedral doctor" - dress an idiot as a rich man and he is presumed to be intelligent

V - "I will go and see her, though but at her window"
"In some disguise then"
"That is true. I must/Maintain my own shape still the same. We'll think" - disguises himself to see Celia

20

Satanic parallels

M - "forked counsel" - double meaning, snake like- Satan = mistrusted. Voltore is a lawyer - hypocrisy, untrustworthy

21

Immorality

M - “The weeping of an heir should still be laughter / Under a visor” – immoral, and greedy, avarice

M - "make home with speed;/ There, frame a will whereto you shall inscribe/ My master your soul heir"
"And disinherit my son?"
"Oh, sir, the better;for that colour/Shall make it much more taking" - Mosca persuades Corbaccio to disinherit his only son Bonario in a bid to become Volpone's heir

22

Volpone's family

- "Bastards, / Some dozen or more, that he begot on beggars, / Gipsies and Jews and black-moors, when he was drunk"
- the dwarf, the eunuch and the hermaphrodite are monsters - extreme forms of the monstrousness which runs throughout the play, since many of the other characters are beasts-cumen. They are probably Volpone's bastard children, the perverted fruits of his haphazard virility. They speak crude doggerel couplets

23

example of characters' infinite capacity for self deception

- Corbaccio claims to have already thought of the idea to disinherit his own son: "This plot / Did I think on before [...] Published me his heir?" - Eve is also easily self-deceived

24

death and decay

M to V - "those filthy eyes of yours, that flow with slime / Like two frog-pits; and those same hanging cheeks / Covered with hide instead of skin"

M - “From his brain […] Flows a cold sweat, with a continual rheum, / Forth the resolvèd corners of his eyes”

25

jealousy

c

26

sexual desire

- Celia is described as having "flesh that melteth, in the touch, to blood"

Douglas Duncan called Celia "pornographically sexy. Mosque's first account of her does indeed turn her into a luscious blazon, but tries to sum up her value in terms of wealth ("bright as your Gold! and lovely as your gold!")

27

Justice

V - “Mischiefs feed / Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.”

V - "What a rare punishment / Is avarice to itself," - foreshadows Volpone's future punishment for greed