Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 5 Scene 4 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 5, Scene 4 | Summary



Peregrine arrives at Sir Politick's house in disguise, hoping to exact revenge on Sir Politick for the embarrassment on the street. Disguised as a police officer, Peregrine claims to have a warrant for Sir Politick's arrest. The charges assert that Sir Politick planned to sell Venice to the Ottomans. Peregrine claims more officers will be arriving any moment to search Sir Politick's papers. Horrified, Sir Politick orders his servants to burn his papers before curling up and hiding under a large tortoise shell. The merchants Peregrine has hired to act as officers arrive. Peregrine encourages the merchants to torment Sir Politick by searching around and standing on the tortoise shell. Eventually, the merchants reveal Sir Politick underneath, and Peregrine announces they are now even. Later, one of Lady Politick's servants announces that Lady Politick has been very depressed today.


Once again, the scene between Sir Politick and Peregrine infuses the play with humor. This storyline mirrors that of Volpone and the legacy-hunters through its use of disguise, control, and gullibility. Sir Politick's choice of hiding spot—a tortoise shell—brings to mind the theme of animal fables. Sir Politick is dim-witted and slow, much like a tortoise.

Although funny, this scene also contains a foreshadowing of Volpone's ultimate demise. Mosca, like Peregrine, uses his victim's vices to his own advantage. Whereas Peregrine manipulates Sir Politick's gullibility and self-importance in his ruse, Mosca will manipulate Volpone's avarice. Just as Peregrine removes his disguise and speaks the truth, the audience can safely expect Volpone to do the same.

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