In the courtroom scene in Volpone, the heightened elements of tragicomedy force viewers out of the scene, creating metatheater. The audience can both feel empathy and sadness at the plight of a character and laugh at what is happening to them, creating a jarring disconnect and disrupting the cohesion of the scene.
On the one hand, it is possible to see the immense humor as Volpone stands back as Mosca unleashes his strategy against him. Volpone, it appears, has been outfoxed by his servant, who is obviously far cleverer and more devious than he ever imagined. Volpone has shown himself to be far more intelligent than the other characters he tricks and deceives, so it gives the audience great pleasure and is a source of great humor to see Volpone tricked in turn.
However, on the other hand, this scene also helps expose the rather pitiful position of Volpone. He has placed all his eggs in one basket, and now that Mosca has turned against him, he must either accept being whipped and losing his wealth or revealing who he really is and taking his punishment. He therefore determines to reveal who he is:
I must be resolute;
The fox shall here uncase.
Volpone reveals himself with the words "I am Volpone" after divesting himself of his disguise. Yet the audience wonders whether Volpone has any sense of who he really is. They have seen him act a variety of different figures and, therefore, any sense of Volpone's own identity has become diluted, if not lost all together. Tragedy is present here alongside the comedy because of the speculation of the audience concerning Volpone's real self. Finally, when he strips himself of all pretense and all disguise, what is left over for a character who has assumed an endless procession of disguises?