"Ben Jonson's Volpone as a novel of avarise and greed"-Analyse this comment.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly greed and avarice are the basis of the plot in Volpone. Each of Volpone’s victims is greedy and their greed leads them to seek more wealth than they already have. They each try to ingratiate themselves to Volpone so that he will leave them his money but Volpone is also greedy and has no intention of parting with any of his wealth.

Volpone is greedy for more than wealth, though. He is a sadistic, controlling man who is greedy to get more power over his victims. This play does a wonderful job of presenting the most sordid aspects of human nature and greed and avarice are two of those sordid aspects. The characters in this play are various stereotypes of greed because the satire is more important than the characters themselves. Except for Celia and Bonario, each character is blindly led by his own greed and in the end, they all pay for their greed.

shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree.  Ben Jonson was exploring the idea of avarice and greed.  He does this not only by the actions of the various characters but also by the names he gave his characters.  For example, Volpone means fox, Mosca means flesh fly, Voltore means vulture, etc.  Except for Celia and Bonario, they are all named after predatory creatures.

Ben Jonson was also known for his comedy of humours.  The belief that humans were a combination of the four humours (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile) was common.  When the humours were out of balance, it would affect the personality.

Volpone knows his audience and plays to each one's weakness but since he himself is also greedy he too must pay the price.  Jonson also explores this same idea in his play The Alchemist.