Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Essay: Volpone as Dark Comedy

Volpone as Dark Comedy

As Sorell explains Volpone Jonsons greatest and most intense comedy.It was first performed in 1605 or 1606 at the Globe Theatre and remains one of the most biting satires on the more dishonoruable aspect of human nature.(79)
Sorell also explains that Jonsons play is a masterpiece of types and cynical commentary on the greed and vanity that formed the large part of society it criticises.(83)

In Volpone all of the characters are equally greedy.So the audience does not get angry for volpones victimising them.They deserve their end.This play ends with punishment not just ridicule and this ending makes it dark comedy.

In fact comedy should have a happy endihg but in this play we see that people are punished at the end of the play, thus it doesnt have a satisfactory ending for a comedy so we can say that it is a dark comedy because Ben Jonson was the great comic and satiric writer of the English Renaissance.He also protested in Volpone the inhumanity of greedy people such as greedy lawyers.In Volpone Ben Jonson celebrates the joy of a good trick.He emphasizes the fun and the humour of deceit but he does not overlook its nastiess, and in the end he punishes the deceivers.

According to Wittenburg there are 4 types of love in the play :

• Sexual love (between volpone and Lady Would Be)
• Self Love (mosca and the others loving themselves)
• Love of money
• True Love (Between Bonoria and Celia)
People are weak about money and they can do everything for it.The love of money is shown as the root of all evil.The reputation of venice as awordly, commercial and cosmopolitan place darken the comedy.(123)

According to Watson with Volpone or the fox Johson turned to his satirical talent and developed his own species of satiric comedy.Volpone is the first and the greatest of a series of comedies which show Jonsons characteristic mixture ;

• of savagery and humour
• of moral feeling of the monstrous absurdities of human nature (128)Volpone cunningly mixes a number of genres and ideas well known to Renaissance audience : Volpone can be read as :
• a moral example
• a best fable: It is a shorttale in which the principle actors are of animals, as their names reveal.
• a satiric play (there is satire on English life is general)
• a humour play However, unlike in the conventional comedy, good does not necessarity triumph at the end, for even the state itself is shown to be easily carrupted. Volpones avarice seems to be epidemic and good characters like Celia and Bonaria stand at the mercy of evil. As Watson explains the play is optimistic.A principal theme is the way that greed can make people gullible.In playing their trick, which focuses on exposing the greed of others, volpone and mosca also expose their own selfishness and greed (which is greater than that of victims) The setting is Renaissance Italy, accepted by the English imagination of the time as the proper home of vice.

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