Volpone

Volpone

Mosca 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 by doing Volpone’s bidding. Mosca writes and stages a small play within the play, and through that play he orchestrates Volpone’s elaborate ruses, showing his masterful usage of language and acute improvisational skills. He is praised for his “quick fiction,” which can be drawn in parallel with the playwright’s “quick comedy,” referred to in the Prologue. Mosca, thus, can be seen as an analogue for Jonson himself. Mosca takes joy in working for Volpone, but he’s treacherous above all: he easily convinces Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino that he is on each of their sides (when he’s really on Volpone’s side alone), and then, when he spies an opportunity to trick even Volpone, he takes it. During Volpone’s faked death, Mosca assumes the role as his heir, inverts the social structure by acting above his rank, and he ultimately causes all of the ruses to unravel in an attempt to win part of Volpone’s fortune for himself.

Mosca Quotes in Volpone

The Volpone quotes below are all either spoken by Mosca or refer to Mosca. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Theatre and Appearance vs Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of Volpone published in 2004.
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

Mosca: This is true physic, this your sacred medicine;
No talk of opiates to this great elixir!

Corbaccio: ‘Tis aurum palpabile, if not potabile.

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker), Corbaccio (speaker), Volpone
Related Symbols: Disease and Medicine, Gold and Alchemy
Page Number: 1.4.71-72
Explanation and Analysis:

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What a rare punishment is avarice to itself!

Related Characters: Volpone (speaker), Mosca, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino
Page Number: 1.4.142-143
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

The weeping of an heir should still be laughter
Under a visor.

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker), Volpone, Corvino
Related Symbols: Disease and Medicine
Page Number: 1.5.22-23
Explanation and Analysis:

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O, sir, the wonder,
The blazing star of Italy! a wench
Of the first year, a beauty ripe as harvest!
Whose skin is whiter than a swan all over,
Than silver, snow, or lilies; a soft lip,
Would tempt you to eternity of kissing!
And flesh that melteth in the touch to blood!
Bright as your gold, and lovely as your gold!

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker), Volpone, Corvino, Celia
Related Symbols: Gold and Alchemy
Page Number: 1.5.108-114
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

O! your parasite
Is a most precious thing, dropt from above,
Not bred 'mongst clods and clodpoles, here on earth.
I muse, the mystery was not made a science,
It is so liberally profest! Almost
All the wise world is little else, in nature,
But parasites or sub-parasites.

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker)
Page Number: 3.1.7-13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

This cannot be a personated passion.

Related Characters: Bonario (speaker), Mosca
Page Number: 3.2.35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 4, Scene 6 Quotes

I will conclude with this,
That vicious persons, when they're hot and flesh'd
In impious acts, their constancy abounds:
Damn'd deeds are done with greatest confidence.

Related Characters: Voltore (speaker), Volpone, Mosca, Bonario, Celia
Page Number: 4.6.50-53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 2 Quotes

True, they will not see 't.
Too much light blinds 'em, I think. Each of 'em
Is so possest and stuft with his own hopes
That anything unto the contrary,
Never so true, or never so apparent,
Never so palpable, they will resist it—

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker), Volpone, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino, Celia
Page Number: 5.2.22-27
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

So, now I have the keys, and am possest.
Since he will needs be dead afore his time,
I'll bury him, or gain by 'm: I'm his heir,
And so will keep me, till he share at least.
To cozen him of all, were but a cheat
Well plac'd; no man would construe it a sin:
Let his sport pay for't. This is call'd the Fox-trap.

Related Characters: Mosca (speaker), Volpone
Page Number: 5.5.11-17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 11 Quotes

To make a snare for mine own neck! and run
My head into it, wilfully! with laughter!
When I had newly scap'd, was free and clear
Out of mere wantonness! O, the dull devil
Was in this brain of mine when I devis'd it,
And Mosca gave it second; he must now
Help to sear up this vein, or we bleed dead.

Related Characters: Volpone (speaker), Mosca
Related Symbols: Disease and Medicine
Page Number: 5.11.1-7
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 5, Scene 12 Quotes

Heaven could not long let such gross crimes be hid.

Related Characters: Bonario (speaker), Volpone, Mosca, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino
Page Number: 5.12.98
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mosca Character Timeline in Volpone

The timeline below shows where the character Mosca appears in Volpone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Argument
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...sick and has offered to name several people as inheritors of his wealth. His parasite (Mosca), meaning his servant or hanger-on, fools all the people hoping to inherit Volpone’s wealth, and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 1
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Greed and Corruption Theme Icon
...Italy, the wealthy Volpone greets the day and his gold, and he instructs his hanger-on, Mosca, to reveal his treasure. Volpone then begins an ode to money, which he calls “the... (full context)
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Mosca cuts off Volpone by agreeing, and he says that riches are better than wisdom. Volpone... (full context)
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Mosca continues, saying that Volpone also doesn’t take the wealth of other heirs, like many do,... (full context)
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Volpone pays Mosca and says that Mosca is right in everything he says. Those who call Mosca a... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
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Mosca re-enters the room in Volpone’s house, bringing with him Nano (the dwarf), Androgyno (the hermaphrodite),... (full context)
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At the end of the performance, Volpone applauds and asks Mosca if he wrote the script for the show. Mosca confirms that he did write it,... (full context)
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...the door, and Volpone ends the song and tells Nano, Castrone, and Androgyno to exit. Mosca tells Volpone that he recognizes the person knocking as Voltore, the lawyer, and Volpone instructs... (full context)
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Mosca reenters the room, and Volpone immediately asks what gifts Voltore brought. Mosca responds that Voltore... (full context)
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Mosca helps Volpone complete his disguise by applying ointment to Volpone’s eyes. Before leaving to bring... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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Carrying the gold platter and ushered by Mosca, Voltore enters the room where Volpone is lying in bed pretending to be rife with... (full context)
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Since Volpone is speaking to Mosca so quietly, Voltore has a difficult time hearing him. Mosca repeats to Voltore that Volpone... (full context)
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...gives what he can, and he asks Voltore to continue visiting often. Voltore agrees, and Mosca reassures Voltore again that he is Volpone’s heir. Volpone then cries out and pretends to... (full context)
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Mosca uses Volpone’s false fainting to usher Voltore out. Voltore wants to know if he is... (full context)
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Voltore is thrilled to hear he is the heir, and he asks Mosca why he has been chosen. Mosca says it’s simply because Voltore deserves it, and he... (full context)
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Just as Mosca finishes flattering Voltore, someone else knocks outside. Mosca tells Voltore that he doesn’t want whoever... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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Mosca puts away the gold platter brought by Voltore and tells Volpone to pretend he is... (full context)
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Corbaccio enters the room, and Mosca greets him. Corbaccio then asks how Volpone is doing, and when Mosca says Volpone is... (full context)
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Volpone though, according to Mosca, is not interested in medicine. Corbaccio becomes defensive, saying that he oversaw the doctor making... (full context)
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Mosca responds to Corbaccio’s offer by saying that Volpone has no faith in medicine. Mosca reports... (full context)
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Elaborating on Volpone’s distrust of physicians, Mosca tells Corbaccio that doctors cut people open and experiment on dead men. They are not... (full context)
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...then he changes the subject back to Volpone’s health. Corbaccio asks about Volpone’s apoplexy, which Mosca says is “violent;” he says Volpone struggles to speak, his eyes are sunken, and his... (full context)
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After Mosca finishes reciting Volpone’s symptoms, Corbaccio wonders if it is possible that he is healthier than... (full context)
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To prevent Voltore from being named heir, Corbaccio presents Mosca with a bag of chequins (gold coins). Mosca takes the bag and says that money... (full context)
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After Corbaccio agrees to leave the bag of gold, Mosca encourages him to run home to name Volpone heir to Corbaccio’s fortune. Corbaccio is confused,... (full context)
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Mosca assures Corbaccio that he’s on Corbaccio’s side, and, as Corbaccio leaves, Mosca yells jokes at... (full context)
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...is gone, Volpone jumps out of bed again and says he almost burst from laughter. Mosca tells him to contain his laughter, and Volpone praises Mosca for his excellent work in... (full context)
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At the end of Volpone’s speech on age, someone else knocks. Mosca tells Volpone to go back to pretending to be sick, since Corvino (the merchant) has... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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Corvino enters as Mosca attends to Volpone, who is pretending to be deathly ill. Mosca greets Corvino, and he... (full context)
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After Corvino gives Volpone the pearl, Mosca says that Volpone can’t understand them, since his disease has caused him to lose his... (full context)
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Upon hearing Mosca’s trick, Corvino hugs him and asks if Volpone really is not aware of them. After... (full context)
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Corvino asks again if Mosca is sure that Volpone cannot hear them, so Mosca shouts in Volpone’s ear that he... (full context)
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Mosca says that he is Corvino’s creature, and that he owes his very being to Corvino.... (full context)
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Volpone leaps up again and tells Mosca that he has outdone himself. Someone else knocks, but Volpone doesn’t want to be bothered... (full context)
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Volpone asks how he didn’t know about this beauty before, and Mosca explains that he only discovered it yesterday. Volpone says that he hopes to see her,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
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Mosca and Nano, both in disguises, enter the square outside Corvino’s home where Sir Politic and... (full context)
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...price. Sir Politic says that Peregrine will have to see for himself, and he asks Mosca who the mountebank is. Mosca says it’s Scoto of Mantua, at which point Sir Politic... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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In Volpone’s house, Volpone tells Mosca that he is wounded. Mosca asks what he means, and Volpone explains that he is... (full context)
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Volpone wonders if he has any hope, and Mosca says that it is at least possible (even if unlikely). Volpone tells Mosca to use... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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...he’ll dissect her publicly for anatomical research. Celia exits, and a servant enters saying that Mosca has come to visit. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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In Corvino’s house Corvino greets Mosca and guesses that Volpone has died. Mosca says that the news is the contrary: Volpone... (full context)
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Mosca says he doesn’t know what happened, but that Voltore and Corbaccio poured some of the... (full context)
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Mosca says his unfortunate task is to find a woman for Volpone, and that he has... (full context)
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Corvino at first suggests hiring a “common courtesan,” but Mosca says that it’s a bad idea, since they are so subtle and tricky and therefore... (full context)
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...Corvino decides that he will prevent the doctor by offering his own wife to Volpone. Mosca says that he didn’t want to say it, but that he thought about suggesting it... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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By himself in the street, Mosca says he’s afraid he’ll fall in love with himself and his talents, because his ruses... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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Bonario walks into the street and Mosca recognizes him as Corbaccio’s son. Bonario, though, isn’t interested in talking with Mosca, since he... (full context)
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Mosca says it’s true that he needs to serve others in order to make a living... (full context)
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Mosca says that his business concerns Bonario, and though it might seem like he is doing... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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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... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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Mosca enters the room in the house where Lady Would-be is talking to Volpone. Volpone tells... (full context)
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Lady Would-be runs off with Nano to look for her husband, and Volpone praises Mosca for his “quick fiction” which got rid of Lady Would-be. Mosca says that Corbaccio is... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
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In Volpone’s house, Mosca ushers Bonario to a hiding space to witness Corbaccio disinheriting Bonario. Alone, Bonario says he... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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...and Celia enter the room where Volpone is lying in bed and Bonario is hiding. Mosca intercepts Corvino and Celia, saying they have come too soon. Corvino says he was afraid... (full context)
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While Corvino explains the situation to Celia, Mosca tells Bonario that Corbaccio isn’t to come for a half an hour. He tells Bonario... (full context)
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...in fact a pious act, or a charity for medicine. In an aside, Volpone praises Mosca for engineering the situation, and Mosca tells Corvino to come closer to the bed. Mosca... (full context)
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...increasingly angry that Celia will not acquiesce, believing she is intentionally trying to disgrace him. Mosca interrupts Corvino’s fury and convinces him that Celia will be more likely to comply when... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 8
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Mosca enters the room where Volpone has just tried to rape Celia. Volpone notes that Mosca... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 9
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Corbaccio enters and asks Mosca why he is bleeding. Mosca explains that Corbaccio’s son, Bonario, somehow found out that Corbaccio... (full context)
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Corbaccio then asks Mosca how Volpone is doing and if he will die soon. Mosca says that he’s afraid... (full context)
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Voltore then steps forward, having seen Mosca apparently working with Corbaccio. Mosca is able to convince Voltore that he is only pretending... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...and two waiting women enter the piazza. Lady Would-be is looking for Sir Politic, since Mosca said he saw Sir Politic with a Venetian prostitute. Lady Would-be wonders if her husband... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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Mosca enters the piazza where Lady Would-be has been screaming at Peregrine. Mosca asks Lady Would-be... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino, and Mosca prepare to go before a court of law. Voltore says they’ve figured out how to... (full context)
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In an aside to Voltore, Mosca makes fun of Corvino for being a cuckold. Then to Corbaccio, Mosca says that only... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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Four Avocatori (judges) enter the court where Mosca, Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino have been talking. Bonario, Celia, the Notario, the Commendatori, and other... (full context)
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When the Avocatori ask who Mosca is, Bonario says that Mosca is Volpone’s parasite. Bonario asks the court to force Volpone... (full context)
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...was prevented from murdering his father, he dragged the sick Volpone out of bed, wounded Mosca, and set out with Celia (who was very happy to participate) to defame Corbaccio, Corvino,... (full context)
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...sarcastically compliments. Corvino publicly declares himself a cuckold, and in an aside he checks with Mosca to make sure that he shouldn’t be ashamed. He then says that he hopes Celia... (full context)
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...Avocatori say that Corvino is acting out because of his grief, and they silence him. Mosca tells them that he received his wound from Bonario, who he says instructed Celia to... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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Voltore asks Mosca what he thought of the trial, and Mosca praises Voltore, saying if he were as... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...him laugh and restore him to health and good spirits, he continues drinking and calls Mosca into the room. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Mosca enters the room where Volpone has been drinking. He asks Volpone how he is doing,... (full context)
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Mosca tells Volpone that he thinks they should quit while they are ahead and stop their... (full context)
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Mosca says that merchants brag about making money from trade, and great men talk about valuable... (full context)
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Volpone agrees with Mosca that Voltore was excellent, but Volpone says he can’t pay Voltore yet. Instead, Volpone will... (full context)
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Mosca asks Volpone what he should say if people ask to see Volpone’s body, and Volpone... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Voltore enters Volpone’s house and asks Mosca what is going on, but Mosca ignores him and speaks out loud the inventory he... (full context)
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...Would-be scan the will to determine who has been named heir. They all realize it’s Mosca, and they are perplexed, enraged, and doubtful. They all question Mosca, but he keeps ignoring... (full context)
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Corvino confronts Mosca, but Mosca shouts back that Corvino should have led the way out of the house.... (full context)
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In an aside, Volpone expresses his delight with Mosca’s villainy. In his own aside, Voltore says he believes Mosca has been fooling everyone else... (full context)
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Thinking himself finally alone with Mosca, Voltore praises him for being so faithful to him. Mosca ignores him, and Voltore tells... (full context)
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After Voltore leaves, Volpone jumps out of his hiding spot to praise and hug Mosca. He is so impressed with Mosca’s mischief that he says he wishes he could transform... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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In Volpone’s house, Mosca is dressed like an aristocrat while Volpone has assumed the disguise of a commandadore. They... (full context)
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Alone in Volpone’s home, Mosca says that the “fox is out of his hole,” and he plans to make Volpone... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 8
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...is still in disguise, in order to taunt everyone who wants to inherit his fortune. Mosca passes by dressed like an aristocrat, and Corvino and Corbaccio are furious. Volpone asks them... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 9
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Voltore enters the street and calls Mosca a fly, saying that his fortune will soon turn for the worse. Mosca tells Voltore... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 10
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...confessing, saying that his conscience is making him tell the truth. He then says that Mosca was behind everything. Volpone, still disguised, offers to go bring Mosca to court. Corvino says... (full context)
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At the same time, the Avocatori realize that if Mosca is truly the heir, then he is now a person of wealth and status. They... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 11
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...by indulging himself and faking his death he has nearly ruined himself. He says that Mosca needs to help fix things or they are in serious trouble. (full context)
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...enter, and Volpone asks them who told them to leave his estate. Nano reports that Mosca told them to leave and took all of the keys. Volpone says that he is... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 12
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Volpone enters, still disguised as an officer, and says that Mosca will arrive soon. When Voltore is about to address the court, Volpone whispers to him... (full context)
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...written statement cannot be trusted. Voltore says that everything he wrote is false, and that Mosca is as innocent as Volpone, who Voltore now says is still alive. The Avocatori, Corvino,... (full context)
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Mosca then enters, and one of the Avocatori comments in an aside that if Volpone is... (full context)
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Mosca acts as though Volpone, who is dressed as an officer, is annoying him, and the... (full context)
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...The Avocatori, disgusted with the way that Volpone and the suitors have been acting, strip Mosca of his aristocratic clothing and begin giving sentences. Since Mosca was the main agent of... (full context)