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"What a rare punishment / Is avarice to itself!" Volpone, Act 1, sc.iv. Do the events in the play confirm this?

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Introduction

"What a rare punishment/Is avarice to itself!" Volpone, Act 1, sc.iv. Do the events in the play confirm this? Volpone was written at a time when Jacobean London was infected with greed, cunning and credulity. These traits Ben Jonson used to show the folly of avarice and its rewards or punishment to those whose only love is money and appropriating more of it. Volpone is all about morals, greed and the depths people will sink to get what they want, despite its consequences on themselves and others. The Jacobean audiences were familiar with its setting in Venice and they thought Italy 'was the land of sensational evil-doing. ...read more.

Middle

The play's theme of avarice, greed not just for wealth but any object of human desire. We see the results of this obsession unfolding throughout the play. From the beginning we see where Volpone's heart lies. It is with his wealth. His gold has become his god and consuming obsession. His opening words show this clearly 'Open the shrine, that I may see my saint. ...With adoration, thee, and every relic of sacred treasure in this blessed room. ' (Norton, 2000. 1306) Yet it is the gaining of more wealth by cunning and deceit that drives him on to acquire more 'Yet I glory more in the cunning purchase of my wealth than in the glad possession gain.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The play portrays the terrible effect a lust for wealth can have in corrupting people and making them behave in immoral ways. Voltore the lawyer, uses his profession to cheat people, Mosca makes this clear when he says 'Give forked counsel, take provoking gold. On either hand, and put it up.' He also gives false witness against Celia and Bonario, with all the other heirs at the Scrutineo. He regrets this when he sees Mosca has inherited Volpone's wealth but when Volpone whispers that he might still gain his inheritance, he feigns demon possession. This statement reveals his true colours and his greed. ...read more.

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