Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 5 Scene 3 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 5, Scene 3 | Summary



The legacy-hunters arrive one-by-one, each eagerly waiting to hear themselves named heir, but Mosca ignores them all, slowly taking inventory of Volpone's estate. Finally, Voltore asks to see the will and announces in shock that Mosca has been named heir. Each confronts Mosca, who reminds them of their sins, and how he could ruin their lies. He reminds Lady Politick she offered sexual favors in exchange for Volpone's fortune. He reminds Corbaccio he disinherited his own son and perjured himself in court. Then he reminds Corvino he tried to prostitute his wife. Voltore initially thinks Mosca will finally admit Voltore as the true heir once the others have gone, but Mosca simply thanks Voltore for his service, promising to call if he ever needs a lawyer in the future. Shocked, Voltore leaves. Once everyone is gone, Volpone leaps from his hiding spot and praises Mosca's villainy.


Mosca easily slips into the role of a gentleman despite his humble background, giving great insight into Renaissance social hierarchy. Despite Mosca's odd behavior, not one of the legacy-hunters considers even for a moment he has been duped. When they discover the so-called truth that Mosca has been named heir, they are outraged not only at being tricked, but that the parasitic servant should usurp them. Similar to the social snobbery Bonario showed Mosca in Act 3, Scene 2, each legacy-hunter expresses his readiness to fight the will in court. Mastermind Mosca reminds each man he could reveal damning evidence about his character should the inheritance be challenged.

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