Symbolic Elements Of The "Truthful Setting” In Volpone

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2014-01-15
Authors
Yemoto, Colleen
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English
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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"So minimal is the role of chance in Jonson's plays that more often than not an occurrence apparently coincidental proves to depend upon unavoidable motivation." This statement is from a recent study by Gabriele Bernhard Jackson, Vision and Judgement in Ben Jonson's Drama, which discusses Ben Jonson's art of “total control" in his drama. The author, in the second chapter entitled "First Appearances," recognizes that Jonson is in command of every aspect of his drama. He is the poet whose mission it is to convey the Truth, and so in each drama there is the "Truthful Pattern, the Truthful Name, the Truth of Circumstance, and the Truthful Setting." For instance, the Truthful Name in Jonson's drama is the name given to a character which describes his nature. The name alludes to qualities in the bearer, it is a complete identification, and it represents the entire potentiality of that character. "To Jonson the construction of such correspondences was far more than word-play: it was part of the truthful framework into which his plays were built." Jonson's vision and judgement pervade the total framework of his plays, including characters' names, the settings, and the principles of plot construction. He is an artist of total control. In looking over recent criticism on Jonson, I find much evidence to support this "control aspect" of Jonson's work. Various topics of criticism such as, “The Double Plot in Volpone" by J. A. Barish, "Unifying Symbols in the Comedy of Ben Jonson” by R. L. Heffner, "The Satiric and Didactic in Ben Jonson's Comedy" by H. W. Baum, "The Naming of Characters in Jonson's Comedies” by T. Heier, "The Symbolism of Clothes in Jonson's Last Plays" by E. B. Partridge all seem to suggest that Jonson "has hold of the reins" of all the complex and varied themes and elements in his dramas.
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31 pages
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