Jonson's Volpone

Jonson's Volpone

Length: 479 words (1.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓


 Homosexual Overtones in Volpone   

During the Renaissance, women did not participate in the theatre; hence, men, dressed in drag, played women's roles. This particular characteristic of Renaissance drama adds many dimensions, erotic and social, to the spectacle on the stage. However, "The primary difficulty in surveying this landscape results from the strong indications that early modern eroticism was fundamentally different from that today. Consequently, the challenge deciphering what may be radically different cultural codes for the Rena issance is formidable" (Zimmerman 7). The interactions between cross-dressed boy actors and the adult male actors, by today's standards, would be considered homo-erotic. In Ben Johnson's Volpone, the role of Celia, the main female character, would have be en played by a cross-dressed boy; hence, many inferences about Renaissance eroticism may be made by exploring the element of cross-dressing and how it transforms the action on stage and the audience's perception.

Celia (played by a cross-dressed boy) interacts with men throughout the play. The scene in which Volpone attempts to rape Celia could be construed as extremely homo-erotic. Volpone desires Celia, yet she refuses to succumb to his advances; thus he trie s to force himself upon her. Bonario is Celia's true love interest, which also has homosexual overtones. The sexual and intimate interactions between Celia and the male characters creates an interesting dynamic. For instance, "When an actor in a male role did not need to impersonate adult-ness, his interaction with a cross-dressed actor, particularly a cross-dressed boy, change. Presumably, the adult actor, by virtue of age, voice, physical appearance and interpretive range, lent credence to the (usually) heterosexual valences of cross-dressing within that fiction. The dual lens on the dramatic action that the adult male actor provided was in all likelihood angled most directly at adult male spectators" (Zimmerman 46). The actors are interacting like hete rosexuals of the opposite sex, however, the fact that it is really two males blurs the lines of what the audience was actually seeing and enjoying.

Celia was obviously made to be attractive to the male spectators, because she is the main female love interest in the play. The male spectators may be attracted to what aesthetically appears to be a woman, or they may be attracted to an androgynous, cr oss-dressed boy. Hence, Celia's appeal is twofold.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Jonson's Volpone." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Feb 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=6692>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Staging Jonson's Volpone Essays

- Staging Volpone Jonson's Volpone, or The Fox is almost exactly contemporary with Shakespeare's Othello and contains aspects that some might view as its comic counterpart. Venetian corruption and the insidious influence of a mincing, unscrupulous servant are themes common to both plays. What, though, has this play to communicate to us. Themes of corruption and materialism, resulting in a misanthropic view of the world, might have been telling in seventeenth-century England, but it is of course extremely difficult to construe them as relevant to the world of today.....   [tags: Jonson Volpone]

Research Papers
668 words (1.9 pages)

Antitheatricalism and Jonson's Volpone Essay

- Antitheatricalism and Jonson's Volpone Crossdressing in England was mostly opposed by the Fundamentalist branch of the Protestant Church known as the Puritans. The Puritan dogma, much like the concept of transvestism, was constantly challenged. Puritans found resistance in the religious authorities of the Church of England and the English government. Before 1536, the Roman Catholic Church was unimpeded and always won over Puritan proposals regarding legislation. Without a cooperative political ear, the Puritans resorted to experimental spiritual expression by changing their social behavior and structuring....   [tags: Jonson Volpone Essays]

Research Papers
797 words (2.3 pages)

Essay on Portrayal Of Women In Ben Jonson's Volpone

- Women for centuries have fought against a male dominated society in order to achieve a more equal standing. This same society and its stereotypes of women have proven to be a hindrance to accomplishing this lofty goal. These stereotypes prevailed in renaissance England and flourished in many of the female characters in the literature. Ben Jonson's classic comedy, Volpone, surely falls into this category. The portrayal of Celia and Lady Would-Be in Volpone reflects the misperceptions and low status of women in Renaissance England....   [tags: Jonson Volpone Females]

Research Papers
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Ben Jonson's Volpone - A New Form of Comedy Essay

- Many critics of Ben Jonson's 'Volpone' have argued that it is not a true comedy but rather a mix of tragedy, comedy, and satire. Many have also claimed that it follows the traditional beast-fable that can be found in the tales of Aesop. Although Volpone takes on some characteristics of tragedy, it seems to follow closer to the conventions of comedy. But it is not the traditional form of comedy. It is a play that takes on the form of a comical satire as well as a morality play. It also adapts the features of a fable in that it strives to teach a moral....   [tags: Ben Jonson Volpone Essays]

Research Papers
2996 words (8.6 pages)

Jonson's Volpone Essay

- Homosexual Overtones in Volpone During the Renaissance, women did not participate in the theatre; hence, men, dressed in drag, played women's roles. This particular characteristic of Renaissance drama adds many dimensions, erotic and social, to the spectacle on the stage. However, "The primary difficulty in surveying this landscape results from the strong indications that early modern eroticism was fundamentally different from that today. Consequently, the challenge deciphering what may be radically different cultural codes for the Rena issance is formidable" (Zimmerman 7)....   [tags: Jonson Volpone]

Free Essays
479 words (1.4 pages)

Avarice in Ben Jonson's Volpone Essay

- What a rare punishment/Is avarice to itself. Volpone, Act 1, sc.iv. Do the events in the play confirm this. Volpone was written at a time when Jacobean London was infected with greed, cunning and credulity. These traits Ben Jonson used to show the folly of avarice and its rewards or punishment to those whose only love is money and appropriating more of it. Volpone is all about morals, greed and the depths people will sink to get what they want, despite its consequences on themselves and others. The Jacobean audiences were familiar with its setting in Venice and they thought Italy 'was the land of sensational evil-doing....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
458 words (1.3 pages)

Essay on Ben Jonson’s Volpone

- Ben Jonson’s Volpone is highly occupied with the evolving city setting during the early seventeenth century in London where international trade, migration and commercial commotion played the imperative role to shape and reshape people’s attitude to life. This evolving urban panorama entices moral decay of individuals and corruption in institutions. Fraudulence, deception, covetousness, greed, and selfishness become the means of individual existence in the exceedingly cutthroat money-making society....   [tags: literary analysis, cultural theory]

Research Papers
1927 words (5.5 pages)

Essay about Class and Identity Flexibility in Ben Jonson’s Volpone

- Upon first impression, Ben Jonson’s Volpone has the most authority out of all the characters in the play. Indeed Volpone’s initial high social rank provides him the privilege to morph into various identities without tangible social consequences. On the contrary, Mosca’s rank confines him to the role of Volpone’s parasite. He constantly aids Volpone in transformation, but he can never partake in transformation himself. However, when Volpone finally falls, the parasite usurps Volpone’s master identity and seemingly gains the benefits of his rank....   [tags: Character Analysis, Social Transgression]

Research Papers
3149 words (9 pages)

Essay on Volpone – Disturbing or Funny?

- 'It invites us to laugh at things which with only a slight shift of perspective are troubling and disturbing rather than funny' The backbone of ' Volpone' is a tale of a dark and absurd world where twisted, greedy characters deceive and attempt to deceive each other. Despite this bleak situation it is a very funny play, the humor increases as the characters sink to new levels. This interplay of disturbing human fault with witty humor does indeed allow us to laugh at situations that are at a second glance horrific and  distressful....   [tags: Jonson Volpone Essays]

Research Papers
1499 words (4.3 pages)

Volpone, by Ben Jonson Essay

- Consider the end of the play, the lack of resolution in the Bonario - Celia relationship, the class based difference in the severity of Volpone and Mosca`s punishments, the situation in which Corbaccio, Voltore and Corvino are left. Do you find the ending just and in structure or are the unresolved situations disturbing. In the epistle of the play Ben Jonson states “it being the office of a comic poet to imitate justice.” It can be said that this is shown in the ending and that it is just and in structure as all the characters are punished in some way for their avarice and the “innocent” characters Bonario and Celia who in a way provide a contrast to the immoral selfishness, are set free and...   [tags: Free Essay Writer]

Free Essays
1177 words (3.4 pages)

Related Searches

In addition, "The heterosexual fiction may have actually mediated the underlying homosexual appeal of the transvestite actor; in any case it as a mixture of erotic stimuli that distinguished the theatrica l dynamic. The androgynous beauty of the cross-dressed boy actor blurred socially inscribed sexual categories, thereby fusing or overlapping disparate erotic impulses in the experience of the male spectator" (Zimmerman 46).

The element of cross-dressing in Renaissance drama adds a homo-erotic dimension to the plays. Whether or not this was intentional, the underlying overtones were obviously appealing to the Renaissance audience in some ways.

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com