Volpone

Rôle playing, character, transformation, and disguise in Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair

'I have considered our whole life is like a Play: wherein every man, forgetfull of himselfe, is in travail with expression of another. Nay, wee so insiste in imitating others, as wee cannot (when it is necessary) returne to ourselves' (Jonson, Timber, or Discoveries).

Write about rÃle playing, character, transformation, and disguise in Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair.

Jonson saturates his plays Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair with the themes of rÃle playing, character, transformation and disguise, grounding the plays firmly in mimicry. The above quotation seems to imply a negative, impoverishing transformation and a deterioration of character by imitation. However, as 'the master of masque,' the examples of Volpone, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair do not completely align themselves with this idea. Whilst some characters do appear to be debased by their obsession with mimicry, these plays are rooted in ideas of mask, or what might appear or seem to be true. This ambiguity makes the audience unsure, at any given time, about the original nature of a particular character. As a result, the audience is not able to discern whether the character has transformed negatively, positively, or even at...

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