Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Volpone (vohl-POH-nay), the Fox, a Venetian magnifico. Delighting in foxlike trickery, Volpone scorns the easy gain of cheating widows and orphans and the hard gain of labor. He chooses for his victims Venice’s leading crooked advocate, its most greedy and dishonest merchant, and its most hardened miser. The joy of the chase of gold and jewels belonging to others is keener to him than the possession. He also delights in acting, both onstage and off. To fool others with disguises, makeup, and changes of voice is a passion with him. His three weaknesses are excessive trust of his unreliable parasite Mosca, his ungovernable desire for Corvino’s virtuous wife Celia, and his overconfidence in his ability to deceive. When defeated, however, he shows a humorous and sporting self-knowledge and resignation to his punishment.
Mosca (MOS-kah), the Gadfly, Volpone’s malicious and witty parasite. Acting as the chief instrument of Volpone’s trickery and the frequent instigator of additional pranks, he keeps the plot moving. Under cover of tormenting Volpone’s victims, he often engages in annoying Volpone himself, almost always with impunity. His tantalizing of Volpone with sensuous descriptions of Celia sets in train the events that finally destroy both his master and himself. A master improviser of deceit and pranks, he becomes in love with his...
(The entire section is 680 words.)
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Androgyno is a hermaphrodite and a member of Volpone's household, whose sole purpose seems to be the entertainment and flattery of Volpone. Androgyno, Castrone, and Nano's appearance in Act I is devised by Mosca as a way to further ingratiate himself into Volpone's good favor. The trio reappear during the play, as Volpone needs additional distraction or entertainment.
Avocatori are the four judges, who hear the trial of Volpone. In the first trial, they are deceived by Voltore's accusations against Celia and Bonario and the witnesses who have been called to testify. After Voltore is disinherited, he goes to these magistrates and admits his crime. The four judges, who are confused, discover the truth after Volpone admits his plot. These four magistrates pass sentence on all the conspirators and find justice for Bonario and Celia.
Bonario is Corbaccio's son. Mosca tells Bonario that his father is about to disinherit him and leave his estate to Volpone. And although he does not want to believe ill of his father, Mosca's tears convince Bonario of the servant's honesty, and Bonario agrees to listen to Volpone and Corbaccio's conversation. Bonario is an honest and good man, who saves Celia from Volpone's advances. However, because of Lady Politic Would-be's testimony, Bonario and Celia are accused and tried as schemers against Corvino. After the plots are discovered, Bonario is given...
(The entire section is 1442 words.)