David Bruce: Ben Jonson’s VOLPONE: A Retelling — Act 2, Scene 7

— 2.7 —

Corvino called, “Where are you, wife? My Celia? Wife?”

Corvino’s wife, Celia, entered the room. She was crying.

Corvino said to her, “What, blubbering? Come, dry those tears. I think you thought that I was in earnest when I pretended to be jealous. Ha! By this light I swear that I talked like that only in order to test you. I think that the lightness of the occasion — the lack of any real reason for me to be jealous — should have assured you that I was only pretending to be jealous. Come, I am not jealous.”

“No?” Celia asked.

“Indeed, I am not jealous, and I have never been jealous,” Corvino said. “Jealousy is a poor and unprofitable emotion.”

He was hoping to make considerable profit by not being jealous and by prostituting his wife to Volpone.

He continued, “Don’t I know that if women have a will and the desire to engage in adulterous sex, they’ll do it despite all the watchmen in the world, and don’t I know that the fiercest spies are tamed with gold? Guards can be bribed.

“Tut, I am confident in you. You shall see it, and you’ll see that I’ll give you reason, too, to believe that I am confident in you.”

Celia thought that he meant that he was confident that she was honest and chaste, but he meant that he was confident that she would do what he ordered her to do.

Corvino said, “Come kiss me. Go and make yourself ready, immediately. Wear all your best attire and your choicest jewelry. Put them all on, and with them, put on your best looks. We are invited to a formal banquet, at old Volpone’s, where it shall appear how far I am free from jealousy or fear.”

Corvino was lying to Celia about the formal banquet. He simply wanted her to dress extremely nicely as if she were going to a formal banquet.

Corvino also had no intention of waiting for Mosca’s OK. He wanted to do this immediately.

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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