Saturday, November 9, 2019

Examine the relationship between Volpone and Mosca Essay

Examine the relationship between Volpone and Mosca in Acts I and II; to what extent is Volpone presented as the dominant partner?  During The Argument at the beginning of the play the audience is told that, although the play’s title is ‘Volpone’, the play is mostly centred on ‘his parasite’, Mosca, and the cross-plots he ‘weaves’ as he ‘assures’ and ‘deludes’ the other characters. Despite this, Volpone is not entirely submissive. There are several occasions where he is the stronger, commanding character, and throughout the play there are some elements of permanent authority, which cannot be overlooked. As stated in ‘The Persons of the Comedy’, Volpone is a ‘Magnifico’, an entrepreneur who would be socially higher than his parasite, Mosca, and therefore better educated than him. This good education is seen in Act II Scene ii as Volpone speaks as the mountebank, Scoto of Mantua. Although it is unknown who contrived the plot, although it is assumed to be Mosca as he suggests the disguise, Volpone uses scientific language, such as ‘mal caduco’ and ‘hernia ventosa’, to convince the crowd to buy his oil, even calling in ‘Oglio del Scoto’. Even if Mosca had created the idea, he would have been unable to use such language to make the crowd believe Volpone was Scoto, and therefore he is reliant on Volpone’s knowledge to help carry out his plans. This social dominance on Volpone’s part is also seen immediately in Act I Scene i, as Jonson presents Volpone languishing in bed while Mosca does his bidding, waking Volpone for the day and opening the shrine at his behest to reveal the ‘saint’ that is his gold. This wealth provides another area of dominance, although this is also a factor affecting class, as Mosca is dependent on Volpone’s wealth to support him as this provides him with a home and pay, so the typical master and servant positions are assumed. Mosca never forgets his place in society, and Volpone frequently orders him about, such as upon the arrival of Voltore at the end of Act I Scene ii when he asks Mosca to ‘fetch’ his ‘gown’,’ furs, and nightcap’. These are duties that Mosca has to perform, and when ordered to do something by Volpone he has to agree and execute the task without argument. These factors mean that Volpone is the overriding authority in this relationship, and Mosca dare not openly disagree with Volpone as he could lose everything. Despite Volpone having a great deal of possible power and influence, he is often presented as the weaker of the two with a great deal of dependence on Mosca, thereby making Mosca the dominant partner. An example of this is seen in Act I Scene I, as Volpone asks Mosca â€Å"Why dost thou laugh so, man?† suggesting that he is insecure and seeks Mosca’s reassurance in case he is the subject of the laughter. This makes Mosca the leading member of the relationship, showing Volpone’s emotional dependence on his servant. He is also dependent on Mosca to carry out the ‘cunning purchase’ of his wealth, with Mosca having to make excuses for other clients visiting, such as when he tells Voltore to ‘put business’ in his face as he leaves, as he is an advocate, and then tells Corbaccio Volpone ‘was about his testament’ ‘for [Corbaccio’s] good’, giving him a positive reason for Voltore’s presence. Through this M osca also manages to increase the wealth accumulated through their enterprise, by playing the three clients off against each other. This is again seen in Act 1 Scene iv as Mosca tells Corbaccio of Voltore’s ‘piece of plate’ for Volpone ‘to be his heir’, leading him to proffer ‘a bag of bright chequins’, and later to proclaim Volpone his ‘sole heir’, thereby denying his ‘brave, and highly meriting’ son, Bonario. However, this does not entirely prove Mosca to be the stronger orchestrator of events or show Volpone to be weak, as Volpone has to act the dying man, and therefore cannot play a great role in manipulating the clients. This is shown in the way Mosca handles the subplot of Celia more skilfully than Volpone, and his greater level of control and forward thinking. Mosca’s role in the play is more as a stage manager than a servant, and on many occasions he is shown to handle situations more adroitly than Volpone. One of the greatest ways Jonson shows this is in the plot to win Celia, something that Mosca himself introduces in Act 1 Scene v, enticing Volpone as he calls her ‘The blazing star of Italy’. In doing this, Mosca creates a new need for himself, making Volpone even more dependent on him as Mosca knows details regarding Celia, such as Corvino’s ‘guard, of ten spies thick, upon her’, while Volpone had not heard of her.

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