Discuss use of disguise in Volpone.

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Volpone uses physical disguises to turn the tables and trick those who would trick him. First, Volpone disguises himself as Scoto the Mountebank in order to see Celia, the beautiful wife of Corvino. At the end of the play, Volpone again disguises himself and has the word put out that he is dead.

However, beyond these two overt instances of disguising, Volpone is constantly deceiving people about himself. For example, he creates the illusion of the sick, invalid Volpone, complete with props, even going so far as to put an ointment in his eyes to fake an eye infection, when in fact he is robust and healthy. Ironically, when "disguised" as Scoto, a healthy person, he is more like his real self than the invalid Volpone most of the characters take as the real thing.

Further, in a subplot, Peregrine tricks Sir Politic by disguising himself as a merchant and telling Sir Politic that merchants are taking him on his plan to sell Venice, something Sir Politic had said as a joke. This causes Sir Politic some humiliation as he hides and is yet exposed in an embarrassing way by being forced to crawl around in his tortoise shell hideaway.

But beyond the physical disguises, people are constantly disguising who they are to deceive others and gain advantages for themselves. Part of the play's dark comedy lies in how over-the-top people are willing to go in order to get their hands on some money or satisfy their desires. The disguises pile up deeply.

Mosca turns out to be one of the characters most prone to disguise. He pretends to both Volpone and the audience early in the play to be a fool and a servile man, a servant pleased to serve his master, whereas he is as greedy and willing to sacrifice others as any of the characters who are after Volpone's fortune. For example, beyond pretending to be servile, he sets up the virtuous and good Celia to be accused of being a prostitute, a cruel irony.

In the end, tricksters are exposed and punished but not without some laughs along the way at how far people will go to deceive others to satisfy their own lusts and ambitions—and to cause the audience to think about how they might want to live differently from these figures.

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