Ben Jonson

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Volpone: Act 3, Scene 3 Summary & Analysis

In Volpone’s house, Volpone says to Nano, Androgyno, and Castrone that he thinks Mosca is taking too long. To pass the time, Volpone instructs the entertainers to perform. The entertainers debate which of them is most pleasing to Volpone, and Nano says that the dwarf (himself) is best, since he’s little, pretty, funny, requires less food, and is the best fool. Someone knocks, and Volpone sends the entertainers out and prepares to pretend he is sick. Nano shouts to Volpone that the visitor is Lady Would-be, to which Volpone responds that she is so tormenting that he’s worried she will make him stop desiring Celia.
The performers, like Mosca, all seem to relish their roles as parasites, actors, and fools. Considering the deceptive nature of the other performances in the play, though, the fools’ entertainment takes on a slightly sinister association. Volpone makes the comparison between Lady Would-be and Celia, apparently favoring the silent, obedient Italian woman to the talkative, more independent English woman.
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