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Volpone's BastardsTheorising Jonson's City Comedy$
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Isaac Hui

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474423472

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474423472.001.0001

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Jonson’s Comedy of Bastardy

Jonson’s Comedy of Bastardy

(p.121) Chapter 6 Jonson’s Comedy of Bastardy
Volpone's Bastards

Isaac Hui

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter discusses how the comedy of bastardy can be seen in The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair, examining how Jonson plays on the tension between possession and dispossession, and the ambiguity between folly and madness. While Jonson makes fun of the city ‘professionals’, and to be possessed is to be melancholic; to be a fool, for him, is a liberation. The city helps to create and construct different identities. In his article ‘Jonson’s Metempsychosis’, Harry Levin suggests that ‘Possibly Mosca’s interlude was written before the rest of the play, like the puppet-show in Bartholomew Fair.’ The second part of this chapter develops from this suggestion, examining the similarities and differences between the two scenes and their importance in the two plays. It argues how the puppet embodies the characteristics of Volpone’s bastards.

Keywords:   The Alchemist, Bartholomew Fair, Bastardy, Dionysus, Castration

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