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Several Essays on Literary Works

He states that for Jonson "the commercializing of life that began with the rise of a money economy and the development of an ethic dominated by self-interest" (p. 114). For Jonson, it is not merely the greedy individual who is at fault but the laws that support the greedy. As Abrams states: ". . . Jonson's vigorous social morality would not have rejected the implication that what Venice is in the play, England is about to become, in the city of London, in the year of our lord 1606" (p. 1114).

The relationship between Volpone and Mosca is central to the play and to the development of the theme. They represent types, embodied in animal imagery, with the greedy lawyer being the fox and with his wily and scavenging servant being the fly. In the Italian tradition, these types were presented with specific routines and vulgar comedy that emphasized the defining characteristic. This is seen in Volpone as Mosca hones in on anyone with money like a fly buzzing around garbage and as Volpone lies, cajoles, invents, and play-acts as necessary to con his visitors out of their money. Volpone is as much a parasite as his fly, Mosca, but they are on different social levels and so are viewed differently by society. It is this hypocrisy that Jonson sees embodied in the law.

Volpone's greed is alluded to in the Argument, and it is made clear in the first line of the play as Volpone awakens: "Good morning to t


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