The theme of avarice has been used in Volpone. Three classical units have been kept in mind while writing this comedy play. We can also find logical sequence of events in this play. The story is unfolded according to the advancement of plot and character. Major and minor characters are unique and they play a very important role in the development of the plot. The three unities as said earlier are important because they provide a sense of realism in the play. The action completes in a single day and the play starts at the sun rise. The very first speech of Volpone is “Good morrow to the day”. Lady Politic is supposed to come three hour later at the end of Act one and she returns in Act three scene four during afternoon. Celia is told by Volpone about mountebank play in the morning. The judgment of the court will come before night is reflected in the first trial scene. Thus we can say that the unity of time, place and action has been maintained by the author. Readers are made aware in the very first act that Jonson has a very good control over his subject matter. We can find a slow opening of the play but as the plot advances with time interest is generated among readers. The strange interlude of the dwarf , hermaphrodite and the eunuch add flavor to this comedy play. Act two of the play is structural in nature. Volpone can be seen in the light hearted mood enjoying with the legacy hunters. Thus the monotonous theme of the play is made interesting here by Ben Jonson. The chief character of the play is confined to his death bed and this performance parallels the deformed persons of Act one. We can find some good comedy at the arrival of Corvino on the mountebank scene. It is interesting to notice here that the structure is interwoven as the intensity of Volpone’s desire for Celia matches with the intensity of Corvino’s desire for legacy. It is noteworthy to find that the virtue of a lady like Celia can be sacrificed by the characters like Corvino. Act two ends with the character like Corvino swearing to his wife that he is not real but virtual in front of other characters. Mosca is a perfect parasite and he himself admits it in Act three. By the quick wittedness of Mosca the first climax of the plotting is reached in Act three. The first crucial note is marked by the suspicious attitude of Bonario towards Mosca. The reaction of this suspicion is very cold and Mosca pacifies Bonario with his outrageous lies. Ben Jonson is a kind of writer who followed the European tradition of comedy. He is not like Shakespeare because as a playwright he could never rival him. He was closer to Moliere. Jonson wrote about his society through his fiction and thus there is a sense of realism in his writings. His sense of realism is socio-satirical in nature. He is famous for writing comedy of humor. Among the Roman comedians Jonson followed Plautus and Terence. He also admired the Greek comedy writers like Aristophanes. The classical comedies always followed the rules like three unities of time place and action. It is also remarkable that the unity of time lays the foundation of twenty four hour time limit of a play. This is one of the reasons that Volpone also follows this rule of time place and action. While writing his comedies Jonson also kept in mind theory of Humors. In the “Prologue” to Every Man in His Homour Ben Jonson writes that-
“That whatso’ver hath fixture and humidity.
As wanting power to contain itself.
Is homour. So in every human body
The choler, melancholy, phlegm and blood,
By reason that they follow continually
In some one part, and are not continent
Receive the name of humours.”
In Volpone a dedication to Oxford and Cambridge University has been made by the author because this play was staged here. Jonson aimed to restore the lost virtues of classical drama.We can find the prologue after the dedication. The prologue is most probably spoken by Nano the dwarf. In Act four we can find the evil doers like Mosca and Volpone at the peak of their trick but in act five justice has been made. All the evil doers or so called criminals like Volpone, Mosca, Corbaccio, Voltore and Corvino are punished. This act is considered excellent by Dryden because the real motive of comedy is achieved in this act. Finally we can say that it is one of the masterpieces of Jonson but it lacks a proper structure which is stated by Dryden that it lacks unity of design. T.S.Eliot has also said that this comedy lacks unity of action.