Summary and Analysis
Act III: Scene 3
Meanwhile, at home in his lavish lair, anxious Volpone passes the hour of waiting by watching a performance of his household fools. After a short interlude, a knock interrupts the playing. Volpone hopes for Mosca's return, but the dwarf tells him it is the English lady. Volpone is to be tormented by Lady Would-be, and Mosca is not present to devise a trick to delay her.
Jonson locates this and the next six scenes of Act III in Volpone's house. These constitute one continuous action. Volpone and Mosca are now dedicated to adding Celia to their treasure store.
Volpone is being distracted by his grotesques. This is the lull before the storm. Volpone is anticipating news of Celia. The fools prattle about which of them is the best. The dwarf eats little, takes up the smallest space, and considers himself the most valuable. Their foolish dance parallels the main action of the play. Mosca is also the least in social stature; he, too, feels he is the most valuable. The plot to secure Celia is about to begin. Volpone's and the audience's anticipation mounts until a knock at the door to the fox's chamber is heard. Is it Mosca, or, even better, Celia? The playwright intends to mock us and keep our anticipation high by teasing Volpone with a woman willing to be seduced.