January 31, 2014 – English
Last lecture on Volpone
Moska’s soliloquy: p.48
• Changing from a servant to self-serving because success has changed him,
• Subtle snake : transcends his figurement as a fly to a snake
• Sees his ambition
• Delights in the destabilizing of society
• Done things to separate families (proud)
• Moska’s dissatisfied with his status and will betray Volopone to get his wealth
Act 4 (perversion of justice) and 5 (who’s being punished and how?) most of it takes place in the
courtroom: difference between public deception (courtroom) and the private deception
(Volopone’s sick bed)
Act 5 parallels Moska’s soliloquy: Volopone responding to what has happened in Act 4
• The public deception becomes a little much and he wants everything to be done.
• He was fine with the private deception but wants the public deception to end
• Starts to feel the sickness: he’s been feigning illness but now he starts like he’s feeling
truly ill (perhaps these are moral qualms? But he drinks it away)
• Has an appetite for life, but always in disguise (unable to face life straight on)
• Starts to believe his deception
Another trial in Act V (serious punishments) subplots coming back:
• Perogrin wants to punish the know-it-all, comical punishment (subplot) preceding the
real/serious punishments (main plot)
• Perogrin disguises himself as a merchant and tell the Sir Politic Woodbee that he will be
arrested and he convinced him to crawl into the tortoise shell (becoming an animal).
Point? Ridicule Woodbee. Beast fable is rendered literal he takes on the shape of the
animal. Punishment reveals the truth that he is gullible. Slowness of the turtle : Slowness
of his mental state. Forces Woodbee to flee Venice because of his shame. This is a
good thing because they will not be subject to the Italian vice.
• Fortune hunters punishment: Moska pretends to be Volopone’s heir, and he spreads a
rumor around town that Volopone’s is dead. Punishes them for the vultures’ greed.
• Moska’s betrayal of Volopone p.121. Mortifying of the fox. He would rather be punished
publicly instead of letting Moska take his wealth. Moska underestimates