Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 1 Scene 3 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 1, Scene 3 | Summary



As Mosca ushers Voltore into the room, he promises Voltore that Volpone speaks only of him, and that only Voltore's presence comforts Volpone as he nears death. Pretending to be hard of hearing, Volpone pleads weakly for Voltore to join him at the bedside. When he sees the golden plate, Volpone thanks Voltore and asks him to visit more often. He promises that Voltore's generosity and "love" will not go unrewarded, and that he "cannot last long." Mosca confides that Volpone has named Voltore his heir, which pleases Voltore greatly. Greedily, Voltore begs to know, "Am I inscribed his heir for certain?" and, "Am I sole heir?" Mosca assures him the will has been changed, and Volpone has always admired quick-thinking lawyers. Delighted, Voltore leaves just as another would-be heir knocks at the door.


Voltore's fake care for Volpone continues to show how greed has corrupted his morality. He pretends to worry about Volpone's condition, but as soon as it becomes apparent that Volpone cannot see or hear him, Voltore drops the act and turns his attention toward Mosca, the keeper of information. He demands to know whether legal documents have been drawn up naming him heir, completely ignoring the "suffering" Volpone next to him. Mosca, who has been disguising himself as a useless servant, also reveals his true nature in this scene. His praise of lawyers as quick-thinking, sharp, and good with words, is actually praise for himself. No matter what complication the legacy-hunters throw his way, Mosca thinks on his feet and manages to continue stringing them along with the con even when it seems impossible.

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