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Home » , » In world of Volpone gold, like grace in the Christian design, seems to have no limit to its miraculous power?
Gold is the core of Jonson's comedy, getting and spending are the chains that bind it together and luxury furnishes the ornament which covers its surfaces. Almost all the characters have the insatiable libido for gold.

The expository salutation to gold, 'hail the world's soul and mine!' underlines the monstrous role gold is going to play. In a grotesque simile, 

'More glad then is  The teaming earth, to see the long'd for sunne Peep through the horns of celestiall ram Am I, to view thy splendor, darkening his'

The significance of gold in the context of the play's story is arrested. The dramatic world of Volpone is gold centred. Gold acquires an exalted status where even the gods and the goddesses are pushed to the background or pale into insignificance. With the progression of the play it becomes quite discernible that success, beauty, richness morals or nobility everything is measured in terms of that 'yellow god'. Volpone unveils his treasure, which is nothing less than a temple for him and gives him exaltation more than what the teaming earth gets on seeing the long desired sun. All style of joy in children, parents, friends or any other waking dream on earth is surpassed by the lustre of gold. Celia's beauty is described in Mosca's words as,

bright as your gold! As lovely as your gold!'

The miraculous power of gold teanscends all possible limits. Corvino proudly exclaims while directing Celia to sleep with Volpone, 'what, is my gold the worse for touching?'After the successful enterprise at court, Mosca and Volpone bask in the glory of their achievement and ridicule the greedy men and Lady Politic who visited them with gifts and even kissed the rheum covered face of Volpone. Moscain a quick retort to Volpone's surprise over it says,

Why, your gold Is such another medicine, it dries up All those offensive savours! It transforms The most deformed, and restores them lovely...... It is the thing Makes all the world her grace, her youth, her beauty.

The evil effect of the materialistic aspect of Renaissance is quite evident. It is the success that matters no matter what the ways to achieve it may be.

The world of this play is crudely materialistic and gold centred. Volpone and Mosca worship it with a devotion, which is reserved for religion or love. Early in the play Volpone speaks,

 O, thou son of Sol, But brighter than thy father, let me kiss, With adoration, thee, and every relic Of sacred treasure in this blessed room.

The characters in Volpone represent the negative or materialistic side. They firmly believe in the maxim that the end justifies the means. Hence the legacy seekers in the pursuit of acquiring wealth care little about what is just or unjust, right or wrong. Voltore-the vulture, the theatrical advocate has the weakness for wills. Truly like a bird of prey he hovers over the body of diseased noble to peck at him and does not mind, for a few gold coins, to file a case against his Maker. The earthly laws become non-existent before his gain. He can willingly degrade himself and his profession for lucre. The greed in him makes him gullible to Mosca's tactics. He sees Mosca double-crossing him with Corbaccio and still sees nothing. In the trial scene he is all bent to reverse the case but the sergeant's pleading that Volpone was still alive and Voltore very much stood the chance on the priority list makes him possessed with the devil. He swoons and comes back to his senses only to ensure his candidature firmly in the grip.

The senile Corbaccio clings to his worldliness and is willing to sacrifice his son's right in order to feed his flickering life with futile possessions. The carrion crow is old and decrepit, partially deaf and blind but his zeal for gold or fortune can outdo the virility of most lusty men. Everything pales into insignificance besides gold in the eyes of these persons. His noble son becomes a stranger to his loins for he dares come between him and his fortune. Corvino is another wretch of the bandwagon. Celia's adultery is promoted by none other than the guardian of her honour, her husband. Corvino hopelessly tries to prod her on to lie with Volpone and his language is more violent than it was when he accused her of adultery,

Death! I will buy some slave Whom I will kill, and bind thee to him, alive; And at my window hang you forth, devising Some monstrous crime, which I, in capital letters,Will eat into thy flesh with aquafortis, And burning cor'sives, on this stubborn breast.

But the miraculous clout of the gold is too tempting. He forgets his anger and becomes a humble man to win her over to his cause.

Pray thee sweet; Good faith, thou shalt have jewels, gowns, attires, What thou wilt, think and ask. Do, but go kiss him. Or touch him, but. For my sake. At my suit. This once.

Celia unable to comprehend Corvino's behaviour cries in utter helplessness,

O God, and his good angels! Whither, whither, Is shame fled human breasts? That with such ease Men dare put off your honours, and their won? Is that, which ever was a cause of life, Now placed beneath the basest circumstance, And modesty an exile made, for money?

But family, marriage, law have all been disregarded for acquisitiveness. The very exposition lays down that there is something atypical in the play. Volpone becomes the high priest of a new cult, which is nothing but the profane parody of Biblical values. In his celebration of gold he relegates gods and goddess to the background. The gold becomes for him the centre of universe and enjoys a very high place. He kisses 'with adoration' the 'relics or sacred treasure' and burst into rapturous praises of his dear saint. Everything is measured with the golden yardstick, be it the best age, the beauty of Venus's locks or such other things. Volpone regards the gold as the dumb god but capable of bestowing tongues upon men. Even the hell can be worth living with gold in the background. And last but not least the person possessing wealth will be noble, valiant, honest and wise.With such beliefs Volpone appears to take on the world and dupe the greedy fellows by dangling before them the golden carat. He understands very well,

'but whom I make must be my heir and this makes men observe me--'.

Volpone is a childless man and this grey makes others gullible playthings at his hands and rush to him. It is greed, which, forces Corbaccio to have a quick disposal of Volpone, and hence he brings 'opiate' to induce some sleep in Volpone that is synonymous with permanent rest. But the clever Mosca not only stops him from administering this opiate but also makes fun of him and the physicians. In his conversation with Volpone he says, 'you know this hops/Is such a bait it covers any hook'.

In the house of Volpone there is no wife, children or parents. There are only grotesque relationships based on gold. Master and servant have formed an unholy alliance to cheat the world and each other too. The dwarf, eunuch and hermaphrodite-the three servants of Volpone are said to be his bastards with his union with the beggars, gypsies and such other people. To this house come friends worse than enemies, bringing presents and praying for his longevity but actually prey upon him, always willing to quickly dispose him off by suffocation, poison or if possible even burry him alive. The force that drives them to this is greed or profit.

It is in the hope of fortune that Corbaccio disinherits his son and calls him a stranger to his loins,...I will not hear thee,

Monster of men, swine, goat, wolf, parricide!.................................thou viper.

Corvino pulls up his shocks to sell the virtue of his wife to earn him the fortune and willingly wears the horns. Voltore, the excellent pleader, for a few more pennies would even file a case against his Maker.

Volpone tells Celia that her husband is such a kind that he can even sell his seat in paradise for some ready cash on earth if he found a trader for this therefore, there was nothing strange in delivering her to his doorstep himself.

Assure thee. Celia, he that would sell thee, Only for hope of gain, and that uncertain, He would have sold his part of Paradise For ready money, had he met a cope-man.

Volpone's courting of Celia in terms of wealth fails. Celia's refusal is a challenge to the miraculous power and the supreme might of gold. This comes as the undoing of the mistaken belief of Volpone, Mosca and others. Unfortunately the good characters like her are only numbered in the play and they too are at the great risk of being jeopardized at the hands of the villains.


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