Literature Study GuidesVolponeAct 5 Scene 5 Summary

Volpone | Study Guide

Ben Jonson

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Volpone | Act 5, Scene 5 | Summary



Both Mosca and Volpone are in disguise—Mosca as an aristocrat and Volpone as a knight. When Volpone leaves the room, Mosca admits to hatching his own plot against Volpone. With Volpone pretending to be dead, he will force his master to share some of his fortune with him or reveal the entire ruse: "I'll bury him, or gain by him." He calls his plan "the fox trap."


Mosca's "fox trap" creates a new animal fable within the larger moral tale about greed. Just as in traditional fables, Mosca, "the fly," will trick stronger, smarter animals out of their meal. Mosca's decision to betray Volpone belies two changes in his character. First, he has outgrown his servant role after experiencing such unappreciated success during his masterful schemes. Second, he has succumbed to greed. In Act 5, Scene 2, Mosca suggested Voltore be paid for his intelligent contribution to the courtroom plot, but Volpone brushes off the request. In that moment, Mosca realizes Volpone will likely never financially reward him for his cunning contributions. After taking stock of Volpone's fortune in Scene 3, Mosca realizes how much he stands to lose, and that if he wants to claim the fortune for himself, he must act now.

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