Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Volpone” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  4,576 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Bitter, satiric comedy in blank verse is one of the great Elizabethan dramatist’s finest plays. The plot concerns a wealthy, lecherous old man who feigns a mortal illness in order to solicit bribes from greedy acquaintances who hope to inherit his fortune. Many complexities of plot and connivance ensue, but in the end, the guilty parties are exposed and punished. Explanato ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 20th 1994 by Dover Publications (first published 1606)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Volpone, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Volpone

Hamlet by William ShakespeareMacbeth by William ShakespeareDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraParadise Lost by John MiltonKing Lear by William Shakespeare
Best Books of the 17th Century
47th out of 127 books — 356 voters
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasArtemis Fowl by Eoin ColferWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëMacbeth by William ShakespeareThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Best Antiheroes In Books
100th out of 359 books — 279 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
May 14, 2015 Lotz rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
Apart from being too long, this is an excellent play. Ben Jonson is sophisticated and erudite, but also bawdy and saucy. An admirable mixture of book-learning and worldly wisdom.

Judging from the other responses here, as well as my own, Jonson's most obvious defect is that he doesn't inspire people to write lengthy reviews. He writes expertly, but with a rather obvious purpose; although certainly highly polished, the point is immediately comprehensible. Jonson is, then, like a mother bird feeding
This Jacobean Era comedy by the brilliantly learned and witty Ben Jonson is perhaps the author’s most famous play. It is about a duplicitous miser, Volpone, who pretends (perpetually, if would seem) to be dying so that he can milk potential aspirants to his fortune of their own riches. His deceptions are facilitating by his servant, Mosca. There would seem to be no vileness to which the two of them are unwilling to stoop, and by the play’s end all is righted so that the work may be viewed as in ...more
May 16, 2008 Eric marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"Call forth my dwarf, my eunuch, and my fool"

Loving this. The Elizabethans are really the best company.
Ahmad Sharabiani
عالیجناب «ولپن»، جنتلمنی از اهالی «ونیز» است. او سه وارث به نامهای: «ولتور»، «کورباچیو» و «کوروینو» دارد. تمارض میکند که در شرف مرگ است تا وارثین خود را فریب دهد، خدمتکارش «موسکا» نیز همدست ارباب خویش است و نقش خود را دارد. «موسکا» از هر شخص و از هر امکان سود خویش نیز میجوید. به هر یک از وراث وعده میدهد، که ثروت «ولپن» از آن او خواهد بود، اگر او این یا آن کار کند، و ... کار به دادگاه میکشد و هر یک داستانی میسازند تا دادگاه را بفریبند. «ولپن» نیز برای فرار از مجازات، «موسکا» را در داستان خویش «عا ...more
If you've read some of my reviews, you may have picked up on the fact that I love stories that have a large cast of people that don't really seem to be connected as the rising action moves along, but they all end up coming together towards the story's end. A Tale of Two Cities and The Marrow of Tradition are two examples of those kinds of stories. Volpone can also be considered that kind of story. Too bad it was atrocious.

The basic plot of this play is a really rich guy who acts like he's dying
Nov 09, 2014 Ela rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
Moral of this story:
Always have a tortoise shell handy so you can hide from your enemies if the need arises.
Robert Cohen
Volpone is a masterpiece. Not in the same way that Shakespeare's Lear or Hamlet or The Tempest are masterpieces. No, it is a masterpiece of low humor, a LOL sort of thing. Think Marx Brothers Animal Crackers or Duck Soup.
The Elizabethan period was a golden age of theatre. But as much as I love Shakespeare (and I do, passionately), it's important to recognize the lesser luminaries of the period for what they were, for their originality, their humor, their pilferage of different earlier material
I have a deep suspicion that the is a play that should be seen rather than read. It starts with a rather dull prologue in a fairly dense poetic style and which I have to admit, made my heart sink. However, once the play got under way it gathered pace rapidly. I frequently found I had to re-read a scene as I had missed a vital piece of information which explained just why someone's fortunes had changed so suddenly. Volpone and his sidekick(or parasite) Mosca are essentially tricksters, who revel ...more
Dec 12, 2012 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
VOLPONE, or, The Fox. (1605). Ben Jonson. ****.
Ben Jonson (1573-1637) was one of the primary playwrights of the Jacobean period in England, and this play is probably his most famous. It’s about time that I finally got around to reading it, although it was certainly covered years ago in a variety of courses covering the literature of that time. The play is, ultimately, one about greed and dishonesty, but told in fable form. The play was mostly written in verse and featured a cast of characters n
یک کمدی سیاه، حکایت طنزی از طمع و هوا و هوس. این بهترین اثر جونسن و یکی از پر اجراترین کمدی های تاریخ است. ولپن یک جنتلمن ونیزی ست که تمارض می کند در شرف مرگ است تا سه وارثش، ولتور، کورباچیو و کوروینو را فریب دهد. ولپن یک خدمتکار به نام موسکا هم دارد که با وجود کمک به اربابش در پیش بردن واقعه، سعی دارد از هر شخص و موقعیت به نفع خودش سود ببرد. موسکا به هر کدام وعده می دهد که ثروت ولپن به آنها می رسد. یکی را وامی دارد تا فرزندش را از ارث محروم کند، از دیگری می خواهد تا همسرش را به رختخواب ولپن ببر ...more
The thing about early modern satire is that it really isn't very subtle. Ben Jonson's characters are all personifications of follies and vices, so they lack depth. Then again, they were never meant to be complex, they just serve to make a point.

Volpone can be laugh-out-loud funny at times, but it's just not my cup of tea. It's too mean-spirited, there's no emotion, no subtlety, and the levity with which the near rape of Celia is discussed made me very uncomfortable.

The play makes sense in its h
I hate Shakespeare.

For the whole two years of my literature a-level it was a nightmare. It didn't help that I'd suddenly found myself in this sixth form with kids from private schools, the sort of kids who went to see his plays in London for 'fun' weekend trips and then discuss how great they thought he was in lessons.

It was hell.

I was the class philistine. I've just never been able to stand any of his work, and for years I just assumed it was because of the language or the style. I figured I si
Moira Russell
This is SO. HILARIOUS. Seriously. It is just about a perfect comedy (my other perfect comedy is Wilde's Earnest). (And maybe Le bourgeois gentilhomme, because even when I was grinding away doing my daily 30 lines or so at SJC usually at three in the morning, with little French and less hope, Moliere would still make me crack up.)
Amusing, and a thoughtful satire on greed and the use of deception, the only reason that this play falls a bit flat is that Jonson lacks the kind of witty repartee that made Shakespeare, one of Jonson's contemporaries, shine so brightly. Instead of a bunch of witty badinage, in which characters dual with each other to try and best their intelligence, we are largely treated to long-ish monologues in which one character or another (mostly the title character) expound on their idea at sometimes ted ...more
An excellent critique of Renaissance (really, timeless) materialism, avarice, and deception, written almost entirely in verse. A worthwhile read.
rich loser and attempted rapist snares wannabe rich losers and sly servant in complicated fake death will trick.
Riotous farce about money and greed. Ben Jonson is no Shakespeare, but he has quite a talent.
Very funny and intelligent read.
Jonson was perhaps the first (since Shakespeare was somehow not in touch enough) representative of what we generally understand to be that thing we call "English humor"; the quintessence of which may be found in miniature here (from whence it takes off tremendously after Smollett and Fielding a little later translated it into the much more appropriate form and setting of the novel). In Volpone, specifically, we have an example of that really awful guy (since the symbol is a fox, I really couldn' ...more
Jonson had been Shakespeare's contemporary, had vacillated between Catholicism and Protestantism throughout his life, and had killed two men in his time (narrowly avoiding the death penalty with respect to the second one because, as a reader of Latin, he was just too darn valuable to Elizabethan society). Snarky, clever, self-assured, and on occasion bitter, he could write a mean poem. He also had a fair amount of success with the stage (except when he didn't, and then he ran off to sulk and wri ...more
Melissa Rudder
The review of Ben Jonson’s Volpone, or the Fox, is the review of death. I’ve started it three times and deleted it three times and, frankly, I just want to get it over with. The result: super short incoherent review. Here goes:

Funny scenes. Manipulation of minor characters by title character and his servant Mosca featured in the first act were hilarious. Dramatic irony throughout. Deception and manipulation played both humorous and thematic roles.

Characters were entertaining, yet seemed a littl
Sep 02, 2012 Andreea added it
Shelves: renaissance, drama
Ah, this play is simply unrateable. I usually have a hard time rating any text that is too engulfed in culture to allow for me to have a personal connection / relationship (?) with it - so Shakespeare or Petrarch are beyond rating - but Jonson is not quite as omnipresent in English language culture so, in theory, he should be easy to rate, but he's not because this play is so horrible. It's filled to the brim with every kind of poisonous prejudice you can think of (although making fun of people ...more
James Nicolay
It is ironic that while William Shakespeare is universally lauded as the greatest dramatist of his time, scholars and historians usually point out that Ben Jonson was somehow more popular and much of his life was well-documented as well---perhaps because he himself chose to publish his own works or maybe (arguably) he was seen as a better playwright in his time. What he achieves in his most popular comedy Volpone is a feat of tightly interwoven plot and subplot structure which is often thought t ...more
The thing about Ben Jonson is that he is, even in critical opinion, canonically considered an arrogant, self-righteous egotist. and quite rightly, too. not to mention the fact that, of the two plays of his i've come across (including this one), he seems to me to be the worst of all Renaissance playwrights for racism, misogyny, antisemitism, ableism & general discriminatory stuff feeding his plotlines. if you ever reckoned that shakespeare's works might fall into any of those categories, then ...more
Anna Jones
Aug 18, 2015 Anna Jones rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking to read a classic
Shelves: 2015
The characters in this are well thought out, however I didn't enjoy the play as much as I thought I would found it not to be funny - surprisingly not funny for a comedy. Humour has changed over time. Although some parts of the play may be amusing when acted out, I don't think others would be at all. But then not every book or play is enjoyable to every person.
Talk about a to be read book! This has been on my list for decades and I can't say it was really worth the wait. It was wonderfully funny but there was none of the poignant melancholy that adds so much to Twelfth Night or just the great good fellowship and outright faery goofiness of A Midsummer Night's Dream. It might be that I've spent more time with the two Shakespeare comedies because I've taught them, but Jonson's humor is so obvious and forced, and at the end left me flat. For all of its v ...more
Mike Jensen
Quite a good edition of one of the best plays produced by early modern England. Facebook friends, I refer to the Revels edition, not whatever goodreads lame software is about to export.
Addicted to Books
I read this for school and had to analyse this play last month!
I didnt enjoy this play at all! Marlowe's work seemed more rounded.
I found it hard to believe that Ben Jonson was a contemporary to the highly talented Shakespeare.

Review coming up

Ben Jonson's been hiding behind Shakespeare for far too long! A laugh a minute, and some really wonderfully crafted lines that will stay with me for a long time.
Tianna Mignogna
omg what's with the obsession with disguises in these old ass plays and how are the characters too stupid to notice people in their weak ass disguises
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Spanish Tragedy
  • The Duchess of Malfi
  • 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
  • The Changeling (New Mermaids)
  • The Way of the World
  • Tamburlaine
  • The Shoemaker's Holiday
  • The Country Wife
  • All for Love
  • The Rivals
  • The Beggar's Opera
  • Samson Agonistes
  • The Caretaker
  • The Man of Mode
  • The Witch of Edmonton: By William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford
  • An Essay on Criticism
  • The Knight of the Burning Pestle
  • Wasps (Clarendon Paperbacks)
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems. A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and ...more
More about Ben Jonson...
The Alchemist The Complete Poems Bartholomew Fair Volpone and Other Plays Epicoene

Share This Book

“Mischiefs feed / Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.” 9 likes
“Riches, the dumb god that giv'st all men tongues, / That canst do nought, and yet mak'st men do all things; / The price of souls; even hell, with thee to boot, / Is made worth heaven!” 7 likes
More quotes…