벤 존슨: 시인, 악당, 배우 그리고 '볼폰'
Ben Jonson: Poet, Rogue, Actor and Volpone
Ben Jonson has been constructed as a universal poet satirizing trans-historical moral characteristics such as greed. Knights intervenes to argue that Jonson was satirizing not greed itself but the particular, evolving forms of economic acquisitiveness in his own society. But the point of this article is that Jonson was a symptom of the changes in society which his works reflected. He was aware of the fact that his own identity as "Poet" depended on the same emerging structure of social relationships that he satirized in his plays. More importantly, Jonson was not only responding to something in the social formation around him but also producing the modes of thought that encouraged and to some extent created these other changes. While he was satirizing the greed associated with an incipient capitalism, he was himself caught in something of a double bind concerning the place of the poet in this new economic, cultural and social context. The increasing complexity of social relations contributed to the developing diversity of literary discourse in the drama produced for a larger, more heterogeneous audience. This tendency is manifested by the emergence of individualized characterization, by a corresponding plurality of authorial voices, personae, and styles. Volpone shows little authorial intrusion in the action itself. Here the moral is carried without the intervention of authorial spokesman. Jonson discovered a formula whereby he could unite the diverse elements of his audience in judging and censuring the action on the stage. In an age of volatile change, the possibility of changing oneself into some other desired character fascinated Jonson. He seems uncomfortably aware of a parallel between the social climbing of the satirized characters in his plays, notably in Volpone, and his own aspirations to a position of status. Volpone is an intriguer, actor, manipulator of fools, perverted commentators on the moral and psychological perversions of his victims. He is, in other words, a corrupted satirist, corruption of Jonson himself.
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