After studying Volpone; or The Fox by Ben Jonson at A-Level, I was delighted to see that I could experience the play again in my university studies! This play is SO funny. The self-depreciating, satirical dark humour that Jonson exerts shines through the vivid and engaging characters.
Watching Mosca and Volpone prance around the stage as they deceive the vultures preying on the opportunity to be Volpone’s heir is so witty. I’d even go as far as to say that Mosca is one of my favourite characters of all time. Jonson is so intelligent and creative; he creates such brilliant personalities that one’s own morals are thrown out of the window because you believe this character’s motives and want to watch the plot unravel. But then, Jonson does this amazing thing and gets you to actively question whether these characters choices are moral. He takes you a step away from the stage and back to reality – leaving you thought provoked regarding good and evil, vice and virtue.
Jonson’s language is so dense, but not to the point at which it becomes dull or flowery. His manipulation of verse is so rich that there are often multiple interpretations of a line. He makes it so that so much can be stated in such a little amount of text, it’s astounding.
Another of my favourite things about this play is that it never seems to fall flat; the plot is fast-paced as are the characters as they run around creating their cunning plans; the tension always had me on edge, wanting more of their deceptive plans – it’s just so enjoyable.
Volpone is the first Jonson text I’ve read and I can’t wait to read more of his satirical plays! For this module Shakespeare, Jonson & Co, another of Jonson’s plays, Bartholomew Fair, is on the syllabus!