Volpone; Or, The Fox

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DigiCat, 15. 9. 2022 - Počet stran: 129
Ben Jonson's 'Volpone; Or, The Fox' stands as a significant exemplar of early 17th-century satirical comedy, allowing a glimpse into the intricacies of Jacobean society with its biting wit and unflinching examination of greed and corruption. Written in Jonson's characteristically robust and energetic verse, this play wields a nuanced mastery of satire and a deep understanding of the classical influences that shade its narrative. Set in Venice, which in itself is a literary commentary on English society, the work employs animal symbolism and the commedia dell'arte tradition to underscore its darkly comedic portrayal of human vices, aligning it with the morality plays of its time while carving its unique niche in the dramaturgical landscape. In his pursuit of wealth, the eponymous Volpone represents a nexus of ancient and contemporary, serving to both entertain and edify its audience in a blend of amusement and moral discourse. As a central figure in English Renaissance drama, Ben Jonson's scholarly pursuits and manifold experiences imbue 'Volpone; Or, The Fox' with a density of cultural and social critique. His own life—a tapestry of the ordinary and extraordinary—mirrors elements within his plays; his deep knowledge of classical texts and personal travails within the volatile world of London theatre inform his creation. Jonson's work often reflects his belief in the necessity of literary integrity and moral responsibility, a belief that emerges clearly in this sophisticated satire that grapples with timeless issues such as avarice and hypocrisy, making 'Volpone' a preeminent product of its creator's convictions and experiences. I commend 'Volpone; Or, The Fox' to readers who appreciate the interplay of humor and morality in literature. Jonson's play offers a rich experience to those keen on English Renaissance theatre, and to students of dramatic arts seeking a profound understanding of the socio-historical context within which this enduring masterpiece was crafted. The text is a testament to the lasting relevance of classical literary forms, and its exploration of themes related to human vice and virtue guarantee its significance beyond the temporal bounds of its original audience. Engaging, provocative, and intellectually satisfying, 'Volpone; Or, The Fox' remains a crowning achievement in the canon of English drama.

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Ben Jonson (1572–1637) was an eminent English playwright, poet, and literary critic with a significant influence on English literature during the early 17th century. Born in Westminster, Jonson's formal education at Westminster School was supplemented by a rich apprenticeship in the theatres of London where he became a peer of William Shakespeare. His renowned literary contributions include a variety of masques, poems, and comedies which display his wit and lyrical prowess. 'Volpone; Or, The Fox' (1606), one of Jonson's most celebrated plays, is a masterful satire that delves into themes of greed, ambition, and cunning. It showcases Jonson's adept control over language and character, characteristics that have prompted critics to class him among the era's leading dramatists (Donaldson, 1985). Notably, Jonson's works are marked by a classical rigor, influenced by his profound admiration for the ancient Roman playwrights such as Horace and Seneca. His literary style often merged this classical sensibility with a keen observation of Jacobean society, which has earned him scholarly praise for both his moralistic depth and his entertainment value (Riggs, 1989). Jonson's enduring impact on the canon of English literature culminated in his status as England's first Poet Laureate, and the legacy of his works continues to be studied and appreciated for their artful critique of human folly.

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