Ben Jonson

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Volpone can help.


Volpone is the play’s central figure. He is an old, rich, childless Italian gentleman with no heir his fortune, and he values wealth above all else. His name means sly fox, which is a perfect… (read full character analysis)


Mosca’s name means fly, and like a fly, Mosca buzzes around whispering in the ears of all the other characters in the play. He is Volpone’s parasite, meaning hanger-on, and he makes his living… (read full character analysis)


Voltore means “vulture,” and, true to his name, Voltore is one of the Italian men lurking around Volpone’s deathbed hoping to inherit his wealth. He is a well-spoken lawyer, and Mosca praises him disingenuously… (read full character analysis)


Corbaccio’s name means “raven.” Another bird of prey figure, he is a doddering old man who, like Voltore and Corvino, hopes to be named Volpone’s heir. Corbaccio doesn’t hear well, and he is… (read full character analysis)


Corbaccio’s son. Bonario’s name comes from the Italian word for “good,” and he represents goodness in the play. He is a valiant, morally righteous figure who maintains family values despite being disinherited by his… (read full character analysis)
Get the entire Volpone LitChart as a printable PDF.


Corvino, whose name means “crow,” is the final ‘bird’ hoping to inherit Volpone’s wealth. He is a merchant, and he is both greedy and controlling to an extreme. He’s cruel to his wife Celia(read full character analysis)


Celia is Corvino’s wife and her name means “heaven.” She is innocent, good, and religious, and she’s faithful to Corvino despite his suspicious. When Volpone tries to rape her she resists, and in court… (read full character analysis)

Sir Politic Would-be

Sir Politic Would-be is an English knight, but he only gained his knighthood at a time when the English throne sold knighthoods out to make money. As an English traveler in Venice, he has been… (read full character analysis)

Lady Would-be

Lady Would-be is Sir Politic’s wife. In contrast to Celia, who is confined to her home, Lady Would-be is given a lot of freedom, roaming Venice freely. Lady Would-be also contrasts with the… (read full character analysis)


Peregrine’s name means “traveler,” and he is another English traveler abroad, a counterpoint to Sir Politic Would-be. Sir Politic offers to help Peregrine learn the ways of Venice and avoid corruption, and Peregrine agrees… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Nano’s name means “dwarf” in Italian, which is fitting, since Nano is a dwarf. He, along with Androgyno and Castrone, is a servant and fool (jester) to Volpone.
Androgyno means “hermaphrodite” in Italian. Like Nano and Castrone, Androgyno is a companion and entertainer to Volpone.
Castrone’s name means “eunuch” in Italian. Like Nano and Androgyno, Castrone is a companion to Volpone, but he has very few spoken lines in the play.
A servant to Corvino.
Several serving women, attendant on Lady Would-be.
Four magistrates presiding in the court in Venice.
The court recorder.
Officers in Venice.
Three merchants, used by Peregrine in a prank against Sir Politic Would-be.
Mob / Crowd / Grege
A mob, members of a crowd.
Stone the Fool
A dead English fool who does not appear in the play. Sir Politic Would-be thinks he was a spy.