Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 1 Scene 2 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 1, Scene 2 | Summary



A dwarf (Nano), a eunuch (Castrone), and a hermaphrodite (Androgyno) enter Volpone's room to entertain him with banter and song. A knock on the door cuts short their entertainment. Mosca answers the door and reports that one of Volpone's would-be heirs, a lawyer named Voltore, has arrived bearing the gift of a large, gold plate. Excited, Volpone rushes to bed. He quickly changes into his furs and drops ointment in his eyes to make them look rheumy. Once Volpone has recreated a sickbed, Mosca welcomes Voltore into the room.


Continuing the animal symbolism, Volpone drapes himself in furs, creating an animalistic disguise. He further disguises himself with eye drops to look sickly. The disguise is so convincing Volpone must remind himself he isn't actually dying—a refrain he utters multiple times in the play. When Voltore arrives, it immediately becomes clear to the audience that he fakes his loyalty to Volpone and only visits in the hopes of being named heir. Because the legacy-hunters are also morally corrupt, the audience can find entertainment in the somewhat cruel ruse that cheats these wealthy businessmen out of their fortunes.

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