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volpooe Lakes place ln sevenLeenLhcenLury venlce over Lhe course of one day 1he play opens aL
Lhe house of volpone a veneLlan nobleman Pe and hls paraslLe MoscaparL slave parL servanL
parL lackeyenLer Lhe shrlne where volpone keeps hls gold volpone has amassed hls forLune we
learn Lhrough dlshonesL means he ls a con arLlsL And we also learn LhaL he llkes Lo use hls money
Soon we see volpones laLesL con ln acLlon lor Lhe lasL Lhree years he has been aLLracLlng Lhe
lnLeresL of Lhree legacy hunLers volLore a lawyer Corbacclo an old genLleman and Corvlno a
merchanLlndlvlduals lnLeresLed ln lnherlLlng hls esLaLe afLer he dles volpone ls known Lo be rlch
and he ls also known Lo be chlldless have no naLural helrs lurLhermore he ls belleved Lo very lll so
each of Lhe legacy hunLers lavlshes glfLs on hlm ln Lhe hope LhaL volpone ouL of graLlLude wlll
make hlm hls helr 1he legacy hunLers do noL know LhaL volpone ls acLually ln excellenL healLh and
merely faklng lllness for Lhe purpose of collecLlng all Lhose lmpresslve geLwell glfLs
ln Lhe flrsL acL each legacy hunLer arrlves Lo presenL a glfL Lo volpone excepL for Corbacclo who
offers only a worLhless (and probably polsoned) vlal of medlclne 8uL Corbacclo agrees Lo reLurn
laLer ln Lhe day Lo make volpone hls helr so LhaL volpone wlll reLurn Lhe favor 1hls acL ls a boon Lo
volpone slnce Corbacclo ln all llkellhood wlll dle long before volpone does AfLer each hunLer
leaves volpone and Mosca laugh aL eachs gulllblllLy AfLer Corvlnos deparLure Lady ollLlc Would
be Lhe wlfe of an Lngllsh knlghL llvlng ln venlce arrlves aL Lhe house buL ls Lold Lo come back Lhree
hours laLer And volpone decldes LhaL he wlll Lry Lo geL a close look aL Corvlnos wlfe Cella who
Mosca descrlbes as one of Lhe mosL beauLlful women ln all of lLaly She ls kepL under lock and key by
her husband who has Len guards on her aL all Llmes buL volpone vows Lo use dlsgulse Lo geL around
Lhese barrlers
1he second acL porLrays a Llme [usL a shorL whlle laLer LhaL day and we meeL Slr ollLlc Wouldbe
Lady ollLlcs husband who ls converslng wlLh eregrlne an young Lngllsh Lraveler who has [usL
landed ln venlce Slr ollLlc Lakes a llklng Lo Lhe young boy and vows Lo Leach hlm a Lhlng or Lwo
abouL venlce and veneLlans eregrlne Loo en[oys Lhe company of Slr ollLlc buL only because he ls
hllarlously gulllble and valn 1he Lwo are walklng ln Lhe publlc square ln fronL of Corvlnos house and
are lnLerrupLed by Lhe arrlval of ScoLo ManLua acLually volpone ln dlgulse as an lLallan
mounLebank or medlclneshow man ScoLo engages ln a long and colorful speech hawklng hls new
oll whlch ls LouLed as a cureall for dlsease and sufferlng AL Lhe end of Lhe speech he asks Lhe
crows Lo Loss hlm Lhelr handkerchlefs and Cella complles Corvlno arrlves [usL as she does Lhls and
flles lnLo a [ealous rage scaLLerlng Lhe crows ln Lhe square volpone goes home and complalns Lo
Mosca LhaL he ls slck wlLh lusL for Cella and Mosca vows Lo dellver her Lo volpone Meanwhlle
Corvlno beraLes hls wlfe for Losslng her handkerchlef slnce he lnLerpreLs lL as a slgn of her
unfalLhfulness and he LhreaLens Lo murder her and her famlly as a resulL Pe decrees LhaL as
punlshmenL she wlll now no longer be allowed Lo go Lo Church she cannoL sLand near wlndows (as
she dld when waLchlng volpone) and mosL blzarrely she musL do everyLhlng backwards from now
onshe musL even walk and speak backwards Mosca Lhen arrlves lmplylng Lo Corvlno LhaL lf he leLs
Cella sleep wlLh volpone (as a resLoraLlve for volpones falllng healLh) Lhen volpone wlll choose
hlm as hls helr Suddenly Corvlnos [ealousy dlsappears and he consenLs Lo Lhe offer
1he Lhlrd acL beglns wlLh a sollloquy from Mosca lndlcaLlng LhaL he ls growlng lncreaslngly consclous
of hls power and hls lndependence from volpone Mosca Lhen runs lnLo 8onarlo Corbacclos son
and lnforms Lhe young man of hls faLhers plans Lo dlslnherlL hlm Pe has 8onarlo come back Lo
volpones house wlLh hlm ln order Lo waLch Corbacclo slgn Lhe documenLs (hoplng LhaL 8onarlo
mlghL klll Corbacclo Lhen and Lhere ouL of rage Lhus allowlng volpone Lo galn hls lnherlLance early)
Meanwhlle Lady ollLlc agaln arrlves aL volpones resldence lndlcaLlng LhaL lL ls now mldmornlng
approachlng noon 1hls Llme volpone leLs her ln buL he soon regreLs lL for he ls exasperaLed by her
LalkaLlveness Mosca rescues volpone by Lelllng Lhe Lady LhaL Slr ollLlc has been seen ln a gondola
wlLh a courLesan (a hlghclass prosLlLuLe) volpone Lhen prepares for hls seducLlon of Cella whlle
Mosca hldes 8onarlo ln a corner of Lhe bedroom ln anLlclpaLlon of Corbacclos arrlval 8uL Cella and
Corvlno arrlve flrsLCella complalns blLLerly abouL belng forced Lo be unfalLhful whlle Corvlno Lells
her Lo be quleL and do her [ob When Cella and volpone are alone LogeLher volpone greaLly
surprlses Cella by leaplng ouL of bed Cella had expecLed and old lnflrm man buL whaL she geLs
lnsLead ls a loLharlo who aLLempLs Lo seduce her wlLh a passlonaLe speech Always Lhe good
ChrlsLlan Cella refuses volpones advances aL whlch polnL volpone says LhaL he wlll rape her 8uL
8onarlo who has been wlLnesslng Lhe scene from hls hldlng place Lhe enLlre Llme rescues Cella
8onarlo wounds Mosca on hls way ouL Corbacclo flnally arrlves Loo laLe as does volLore Mosca
ploLs wlLh volLores asslsLance how Lo geL volpone ouL of Lhls mess
A shorL whlle laLer ln Lhe early afLernoon eregrlne and Slr ollLlc are sLlll Lalklng Slr ollLlc glves
Lhe young Lraveler some advlce on llvlng ln venlce and descrlbes several schemes he has under
conslderaLlon for maklng a greaL deal of money 1hey are soon lnLerrupLed by Lady ollLlc who ls
convlnced LhaL eregrlne ls Lhe prosLlLuLe Mosca Lold her abouLadmlLLedly ln dlsgulse 8uL Mosca
arrlves and Lells Lady ollLlc LhaL she ls mlsLaken Lhe courLesan he referred Lo ls now ln fronL of Lhe
SenaLe (ln oLher words Cella) Lady ollLlc belleves hlm and ends by glvlng eregrlne a seducLlve
goodbye wlLh a coy suggesLlon LhaL Lhey see each oLher agaln eregrlne ls lncensed aL her behavlor
and vows revenge on Slr ollLlc because of lL 1he scene swlLches Lo Lhe ScruLlneo Lhe veneLlan
SenaLe bulldlng where Cella and 8onarlo have lnformed Lhe [udges of venlce abouL volpones
decelL volpones aLLempL Lo rape Cella Corbacclos dlslnherlLance of hls son and Corvlnos declslon
Lo prosLlLuLe hls wlfe 8uL Lhe defendanLs make a very good case for Lhemselves led by Lhelr lawyer
volLore volLore porLrays 8onarlo and Cella as lovers Corvlno as an lnnocenL [llLed husband and
Corbacclo as a wounded faLher nearly kllled by hls evll son 1he [udge are swayed when Lady ollLlc
comes ln and (seL up perfecLly by Mosca) ldenLlfles Cella as Lhe seducer of her husband Slr ollLlc
lurLher Lhey are convlnced when volpone enLers Lhe courLroom agaln acLlng lll 1he [udges order
LhaL Cella and 8onarlo be arresLed and separaLed

ln Lhe flnal acL volpone reLurns home Llred and worrled LhaL he ls acLually growlng lll for he ls now
feellng some of Lhe sympLoms he has been faklng 1o dlspel hls fears he decldes Lo engage ln one
flnal prank on Lhe legacy hunLers Pe spreads a rumor LhaL he has dled and Lhen Lells Mosca Lo
preLend LhaL he has been made hls masLers helr 1he plan goes off perfecLly and all Lhree legacy
hunLers are fooled volpone Lhen dlsgulses hlmself as a veneLlan guard so LhaL he can gloaL ln each
legacy hunLers face over Lhelr humlllaLlon wlLhouL belng recognlzed 8uL Mosca leLs Lhe audlence
know LhaL volpone ls dead ln Lhe eyes of Lhe world and LhaL Mosca wlll noL leL hlm reLurn Lo Lhe
world of Lhe llvlng unless volpone pays up glvlng Mosca a share of hls wealLh
Meanwhlle eregrlne ls ln dlsgulse hlmself playlng hls own prank on Slr ollLlc eregrlne presenLs
hlmself as a merchanL Lo Lhe knlghL and lnforms ollLlc LhaL word has goLLen ouL of hls plan Lo sell
venlce Lo Lhe 1urks ollLlc who once menLloned Lhe ldea ln [esL ls Lerrlfled When Lhree merchanLs
who are ln colluslon wlLh eregrlne knock on Lhe door ollLlc [umps lnLo a LorLolseshell wlne case
Lo save hlmself eregrlne lnforms Lhe merchanLs when Lhey enLer LhaL he ls looklng aL a valuable
LorLolse 1he merchanLs declde Lo [ump on Lhe LorLolse and demand LhaL lL crawls along Lhe floor
1hey remark loudly upon lLs leggarLers and flne handgloves before Lurnlng lL over Lo reveal Slr
ollLlc eregrlne and Lhe merchanLs go off laughlng aL Lhelr prank and Slr ollLlc moans abouL how
much he agrees wlLh hls wlfes deslre Lo leave venlce and go back Lo Lngland
Meanwhlle volpone gloaLs ln fronL of each legacy hunLer derldlng Lhem for havlng losL volpones
lnherlLance Lo a paraslLe such as Mosca and he successfully avolds recognlLlon 8uL hls plan
backflres noneLheless volLore drlven Lo such a sLaLe of dlsLracLlon by volpones Leaslng decldes Lo
recanL hls LesLlmony ln fronL of Lhe SenaLe lmpllcaLlng boLh hlmself buL more lmporLanLly Mosca as
a crlmlnal Corvlno accuses hlm of belng a sore loser upseL LhaL Mosca has lnherlLed volpones
esLaLe upon hls deaLh and Lhe news of Lhls deaLh surprlses Lhe SenaLors greaLly volpone nearly
recovers from hls blunder by Lelllng volLore ln Lhe mlddle of Lhe SenaLe proceedlng LhaL volpone
ls sLlll allve Mosca preLends Lo falnL and clalms Lo Lhe SenaLe LhaL he does noL know where he ls
how he goL Lhere and LhaL he musL have been possessed by a demon durlng Lhe lasL few mlnuLes
when he was speaklng Lo Lhem Pe also lnforms Lhe SenaLors LhaL volpone ls noL dead conLradlcLlng
Corvlno All seems good for volpone unLll Mosca reLurns and lnsLead of conflrmlng volLores clalm
LhaL volpone ls allve Mosca denles lL Mosca afLer all has a wlll wrlLLen by volpone and ln hls
slgnaure sLaLlng LhaL he ls volpones helr now LhaL volpone ls belleved Lo be dead Mosca legally
owns volpones properLy and Mosca Lells volpone LhaL he ls noL golng Lo glve lL back by Lelllng Lhe
LruLh 8eallzlng LhaL he has been beLrayed volpone decldes LhaL raLher Lhan leL Mosca lnherlL hls
wealLh he wlll Lurn Lhem boLh ln volpone Lakes off hls dlsgulse and flnally reveals Lhe LruLh abouL
Lhe evenLs of Lhe pasL day volpone ends up belng senL Lo prlson whlle Mosca ls conslgned Lo a slave
galley volLore ls dlsbarred Corbacclo ls sLrlpped of hls properLy (whlch ls glven Lo hls son 8onarlo)
and Corvlno ls publlcly humlllaLed forced Lo wear donkeys ears whlle belng rowed around Lhe
canals of venlce AL Lhe end Lhere ls a small noLe from Lhe playwrlghL Lo Lhe audlence slmply asklng
Lhem Lo applaud lf Lhey en[oyed Lhe play Lhey [usL saw

f|ys|s of Mfor Chfrfnters
1he plays LlLle characLer ls lLs proLagonlsL Lhough an lnconslsLenL one Pe dlsappears ln AcL lv
seemlngly replaced by Mosca and ls flrsL an lnsLrumenL and Lhen a vlcLlm of !onsons saLlre of
moneyobsessed socleLy Pe ls an lnsLrumenL of lL because lL ls Lhrough hls lngenulLy and cleverness
LhaL volLore Corbacclo and Corvlno are duped and he seems Lo share ln !onsons saLlrlc
lnLerpreLaLlon of Lhe evenLs observlng ln lv WhaL a rare punlshmenL / ls avarlce Lo lLself 8uL Lhe
saLlre evenLually Lurns back on hlm when he becomes a vlcLlm of Moscas loxLrap 1he reason he
ls ensnared by Mosca ls LhaL he cannoL reslsL one flnal gloaL aL hls dupes obllvlous Lo Lhe facL LhaL ln
dolng so he hands over hls enLlre esLaLe Lo Mosca 1hls lack of raLlonal foreLhoughL and
commlLmenL Lo hls own sensual lmpulses ls characLerlsLlc of volpone Pe en[oys enLerLalnmenL
banqueLs feasLs and love maklng Pe haLes havlng Lo make money Lhrough honesL labour or cold
hearLless banklng buL he loves maklng lL ln clever decelLful ways especlally as a means Loward food
and lovemaklng Pe ls a creaLure of passlon an lmaglnaLlve hedonlsL conLlnually looklng Lo flnd and
aLLaln new forms of pleasure whaLever Lhe consequences may be 1hls dynamlc ln hls characLer
shapes our reacLlon Lo hlm LhroughouL Lhe play AL Llmes Lhls hedonlsm seems fun engaglng
enLerLalnlng and even morally valuable such as when he ls engaged ln Lhe con on hls forLune
hunLers 8uL hls aLLempLed seducLlon of Cella reveals a darker slde Lo hls hedonlsm when lL becomes
an aLLempLed rape 1he lncldenL makes hlm ln Lhe moral unlverse of Lhe play a worLhy LargeL for
saLlre whlch ls whaL he becomes ln AcL v when because of hls lack of resLralnL he ends up on hls
way Lo prlson Lhe mosL unpleasurable slLuaLlon lmaglnable
ln a play LhaL revolves around dlsgulses Mosca ls Lhe ulLlmaLe masLer of dlsgulse Pe ls Lhe person
who conLlnually execuLes volpones ldeas and Lhe one who comes up wlLh Lhe necessary lle
whenever needed 1he lle could be made ln order Lo save volpone from Lhe charges lald agalnsL hlm
by 8onarlo and Cella or Lo convlnce Corvlno Lo leL hls wlfe sleep wlLh Lhe loxelLher way Mosca
seems Lo have no scruples abouL decelL 8uL hls mosL lmporLanL decepLlon ls Lhe one he effecLs on
volpone and Lhe audlence hldlng hls Lrue naLure and lnLenLlons from boLh Lhe lox and us ln Lhe
openlng acLs Mosca appears Lo be exacLly whaL he ls descrlbed as a cllnglng servlle paraslLe who
only exlsLs for volpone and Lhrough volpone ln oLher words he exlsLs Lo serve volpone and all LhaL
volpone wanLs he wanLs 1hls lmpresslon ls relnforced by several crlnglng speeches LhaL he glves all
ln pralse of volpone 8uL ln AcL 1hree we have Lhe beglnnlng of whaL seems an asserLlon of self
ldenLlLy by Mosca when he beglns Lo grow confldenL ln hls ablllLles 8uL Lhen Lhls confldence agaln ls
lefL unvolced and Mosca seems Lo go back Lo belng volpones falLhful servanL helplng hlm geL ouL
of Lhe Lroublesome slLuaLlon wlLh 8onarlo and Cella 8uL lL Lurns ouL LhaL Moscas ald ln Lhls
slLuaLlon may have been moLlvaLed as much by personal lnLeresL as lL was by a deslre Lo ald
volpone for when he ls presenLed wlLh an opporLunlLy Lo selze volpones wealLh he Lakes lL Mosca
hlmself ls possessed by greed and he aLLempLs Lo move ouL of hls role as paraslLea harmless fly
clrcllng around a greaL beasLLo Lhe role of greaL beasL hlmself 8uL hls aLLempL falls as volpone
exposes Lhem boLh An lnLeresLlng quesLlon ls whaL slgnlflcance hls fallure has ln Lhe conLexL of Lhe
play and wheLher lL ls [usL punlshmenL for hls greed hls decelL or hls aLLempL Lo usurp Lhe powers
and prlvlleges of Lhe noblllLy and move above hls soclal class
Whlle volpone says yes Lo every slngle pleasure he can flndand pursues Lhose pleasures
vlgorouslyCella ls deflned by her selfdenlal 1hls makes her a perfecL foll for volpone slnce her
selfresLralnL exposes hls compleLe lack Lhereof no more clearly Lhan ln volpones aLLempLed
seducLlon of her 1he Lurnlng polnL of Lhe play comes when she says no Lo volpones advances
Lhus denylng hlm Lhe lasclvlous pleasures he descrlbes ln hls seducLlon speech Cella seems wllllng Lo
do anyLhlng Lo avold dlshonor and Lhls makes her characLer flaL and predlcLable Loo ready Lo
sacrlflce herself Lo be bellevable Per wllllngness Lo sub[ecL herself Lo Corvlnos harsh dlcLaLes and
abuse may make her seem more weak Lhan sLrong 8uL she has an lnner moral sense (even lf lL ls
dlcLaLed by sevenLeenLhcenLury convenLlons on femlnlnlLy) lndlcaLed by Lhe facL LhaL she refuses
volpone agalnsL her husbands express wlshes 1he facL LhaL !onson sldes wlLh her can be seen ln hls
declslon Lo puL one of Lhe sLrongesL sLaLemenLs of Lhe plays Lhesls ln her mouLh WhlLher whlLher
/ ls shame fled human breasLs? ls LhaL whlch ever was a cause for llfe /now placed beneaLh Lhe
basesL clrcumsLance? / And modesLy an exlle made for money? !onson agaln chooses a name wlLh
symbollc meanlng for Cella lL derlves from Lhe LaLln word nfelom meanlng sky or heaven
volLore ls llke all Lhe legacy hunLers named afLer a carrlonblrd ln Lhe case of volLore LhaL blrd ls
Lhe vulLure for Corvlno lL ls Lhe crow and for Corbacclo Lhe raven volLore ls Lhe mosL pleasanL of
all Lhe legacy hunLers for he ls Lhe leasL crass and Lhe leasL obsessed wlLh seelng volpone dle Pls
preferenLlal sLaLus shows ln Moscas speclal regard for hlm Mosca Lrles Lo make sure LhaL volLore
geLs enough paymenL for hls servlces aL Lhe ScruLlneo ln AcL lv 8uL volLore comes Lo regreL hls
acLlons aL Lhe ScruLlneo Cf course Lhls regreL only comes afLer he has been denled hls lnherlLance
and lL seems Lo sLem dlrecLly from hls resenLmenL aL Moscas leapfrogglng over hlm on Lhe soclal
ladder And when volpone whlspers Lo hlm LhaL he mlghL sLlll geL hls lnherlLance he sLops
confesslng hls lles Lo Lhe ScruLlneo and preLends LhaL he was possessed by an evll demon 1he
verbal lrony ls LhaL volLore ln LhaL sLaLemenL and acLlon reveals hls greed

Corv|o An exLremely vlclous and dlshonorable characLer Corvlno ls Cellas [ealous husband Pe
frequenLly LhreaLens Lo do dlsgusLlng acLs of physlcal vlolence Lo her and her famlly ln order Lo galn
conLrol over her ?eL he ls more concerned wlLh flnanclal galn Lhan wlLh her falLhfulness seelng her
ln essence as a plece of properLy Corvlno ls anoLher one of Lhe carrlonblrds clrcllng volpone
Corbfnn|o 1he Lhlrd carrlonblrd clrcllng volpone Corbacclo ls acLually exLremely old and lll
hlmself and ls much more llkely Lo dle before volpone even has a chance Lo bequeaLh hlm hls
wealLh Pe has a hearlng problem and beLrays no slgn of concern for volpone dellghLlng openly ln
(fake) reporLs of volpones worsenlng sympLoms

8ofr|o 1he son of Corbacclo 8onarlo ls an uprlghL youLh who remalns loyal Lo hls faLher even
when hls faLher per[ures agalnsL hlm ln courL Pe herolcally rescues Cella from volpone and
represenLs bravery and honor quallLles whlch Lhe oLher characLers seem Lo lack
S|r o||t|n Wou|dbe An Lngllsh knlghL who resldes ln venlce Slr ollLlc represenLs Lhe danger of
moral corrupLlon LhaL Lngllsh Lravelers face when Lhey go abroad Lo Lhe conLlnenL especlally Lo
lLaly Pe occuples Lhe cenLral role ln Lhe subploL whlch cenLers on Lhe relaLlonshlp beLween hlmself
and eregrlne anoLher Lngllsh Lraveler much less gulllble Lhan Lhe good knlghL Slr ollLlc ls also
lmaglnaLlve comlng up wlLh ldeas for moneymaklng schemes such as uslng onlons Lo deLecL Lhe
plague as well as Lhe ldea of maklng a deLalled noLe of every slngle acLlon he performs ln hls dlary
lncludlng hls urlnaLlons
fdy o||t|n Wou|dbe 1he Lady ollLlc Wouldbe ls porLrayed as a wouldbe courLesan She was
Lhe lmpeLus for Lhe Wouldbes move Lo venlce because of her deslre Lo learn Lhe ways of Lhe
sophlsLlcaLed veneLlans She ls very well read and very lncllned Lo leL anyone know Lhls or anyLhlng
else abouL her She ls exLremely valn
eregr|e eregrlne ls a young Lngllsh Lraveler who meeLs and befrlends Slr ollLlc Would be
upon arrlvlng ln venlce eregrlne ls amused by Lhe gulllble Wouldbe buL ls also easlly offended as
demonsLraLed by hls adverse reacLlon Lo Lady ollLlc Wouldbes suggesLlve commenLs
Nfo nano as hls named ln lLallan lndlcaLes (ofoo means dwarf) ls a dwarf Pe ls also
volpones fool or [esLer keeplng volpone amused wlLh songs and [okes wrlLLen by Mosca
Cfstroe 1he only noLable facL abouL CasLrone ls LhaL hls name means eunuch (nfooe means
eunuch ln lLallan) 1here ls noL much else Lo say abouL CasLrone as he has no speaklng llnes
drogyo oJoqyoo means hermaphrodlLe ln lLallan and as ln Lhe case of nano and
CasLrone Lhe name rlngs Lrue Androgyno apparenLly possesses Lhe soul of yLhagoras accordlng Lo
nano whlch has been ln gradual decllne ever slnce lL lefL Lhe anclenL maLhemaLlclans body