Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 4 Scene 6 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 4, Scene 6 | Summary



Lady Politick enters the courtroom and immediately calls Celia a "chameleon harlot" before apologizing to the court for losing her cool and embarrassing women everywhere. The court asks Bonario and Celia what proof they have of their innocence, but they have none. Volpone arrives, once again pretending to be ill and infirm. Enraged, Bonario demands Volpone be tested for illness, but Voltore argues such tests would be akin to torture. The lawyers agree, deciding Volpone simply doesn't have the strength to rape someone, and decide Bonario and Celia should be imprisoned. The lawyers apologize for the inconvenience caused to Volpone, and thank Voltore for his great service to the court.


None of the legacy-hunters gives a second thought to the devastation they have just caused Bonario and Celia. Not even Corbaccio feels guilty about jailing his only son. Corbaccio's moral corruption has deepened since the opening scenes. He initially waivered on whether or not he should disinherit Bonario, and only decided to do so because he hoped it would increase the fortune he would eventually leave his son. Now, Corbaccio has not only disinherited his son willingly, but he has also participated in the lies that lead to Bonario's imprisonment.

Once again, Volpone must resort to disguise to get what he wants. His performance in court is so convincing, the judges don't even order tests of Volpone's health. They simply accept that he would be too weak to rape someone, a subjective decision that further devalues women's bodies and stories.

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