Volpone By Ben Jonson Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene 4

Summary

After the crowd disperses in confusion, Volpone and Mosca stagger down to the front of the stage in great distress. Volpone has been wounded by "angry Cupid, bolting from her [Celia's] eyes." Volpone must see her or die a wretched man. Though the meeting seems impossible, Mosca undertakes to turn the trick. Volpone offers Mosca everything for a meeting with Celia. Mosca consoles Volpone's longing by promising him success in cuckolding Corvino. Volpone is pleased that he played the mountebank so successfully. Mosca tells his master that "Scoto himself could hardly have distinguished!"

Analysis

Now that Volpone has discovered for himself the beauty of Celia, she becomes another desired possession. The important thing is that she already belongs to Corvino. Volpone's greed is reserved for objects that others possess. Mosca is fully aware of this character trait, and he teases Volpone's longing with the promise of making Corvino a cuckold. Celia is not desired because of her beauty; rather, her beauty makes tricking Corvino worth the effort. Volpone's greed has completely mastered him.

The servant Mosca is aware that Volpone is now a slave to his own greed. Volpone even desires the parasite to praise his performance as a fool! When Mosca responds with lavish praise, Volpone is too preoccupied with his desires to hear the irony in his servant's voice.

Jonson ends the scene without disclosing how he means to have Mosca bring about the meeting between Volpone and Celia. This mystery adds comic anticipation to the suspense of the plot.

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