What is your commentary on Corvino's character in Act 2, Scene 5 of Volpone?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Corvino is a merchant who is one of the men who believes that Volpone should make him heir to Volpone’s fortune when Volpone dies. Corvino is a bully and a coward. He has a beautiful wife, Celia. Volpone lusts after Celia so Mosca dreams up a plan to procure her for his master, Volpone. Mosca makes up the tale that Volpone must lie with a beautiful woman. Corvino greedily agrees to Mosca’s plan because Mosca assures him that Celia will be safe because Volpone is sickly and dying (not true).

In this scene, Corvino is dragging Celia from the window because he has witnessed her tossing her handkerchief to Scoto Mantua, who is actually Volpone in disguise, pretending to be the village fool. Corvino is extremely jealous and accuses Celia of flirting and being unfaithful to him. Celia begs him not to be so jealous and reminds him that she barely leaves the house. He does not believe her and tells her she will now not be allowed to leave at all, she will not be allowed to go near the windows, and she must do everyting backward – talk, walk, etc. If she does not obey, he tells her he will humiliate her in public and kill her entire family. His language is full of violence and twisted sexual images, plays on words (i.e. the use of the word "mount"). He ends with:

You would be damn'd ere you did this, you whore!

In this scene, Corvino exposes his own warped character, greed and lust. His two long speeches to Celia illustrate that while he, too, lusts for her physically, he views her as his property and this is the more important thing to him. Johnson uses this scene in an ironic way because Corvino is ranting and raving about justice, how he has been treated unfairly by Celia’s alleged infidelity (untrue) when all the while, he is going to use Celia as a pawn to trick Volpone into making him the heir to Volpone’s fortune.

Read about the play here on eNotes.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial