Ben Jonson wrote Volpone when England's pamphlet wars and the rule of Queen Elizabeth I contributed to an environment in which the "woman question" was forefront in many minds. These social concerns echo in Volpone, resulting in a play that not only deals with vices and greed, but that also, to a limited degree, contributes to the querelle de femmes. The play's numerous animal metaphors create distinctions between characters; among other things, animalistic surnames represent the vices and complexities of humanity, and, more specifically, reverberate with judgments that seem to underscore the injustices of misogynistic pamphleteers. Moreover, Jonson's characters Bonario and Celia represent the ideal images of manhood and womanhood and are armed with various virtues that allow them to overcome trials. Ultimately, when read in the context of the Early Modern pamphlet wars, Volpone's animal metaphors form a conservative defense of women that condemns misogyny and advocates a partnership between virtuous men and women for the sake of moral social order.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Anderson, Julie Anne, "The Fox and the Goose: The Pamphlet Wars and Volpone's Animal Metaphors" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 7222.
Ben Jonson, querelle de femmes, Volpone, pamphlet wars, women's issues, animal metaphor, virtue