Attitudes to wealth in Volpone and Glengarry Glen Ross
Ben Jonson’s Volpone is an overt satire of greed which in no way covers up the numerous second meanings and implications found throughout the text that link towards the theme of wealth and the characters feeling towards monetary matters. Glengarry on the other hand is much more subtle in portraying all of its themes, including that of wealth, yet it can be argued that wealth is still the most prevalent theme within Glengarry due to the strong links with the American dream. Wealth is instantly prioritised from the first utterance of Volpone, “Good morning to the day; and next, my gold!” This utterance perfectly sums up the impact that wealth has on Volpone. As soon as he arises gold is the instant priority hence showing how overnight Volpone was most likely dreaming of gold, since people tend to wake up with the thoughts of the night still lingering in their mind thus implying that even subconsciously Volpone desires gold at all times hence showing the unfathomable impact it has on his existence. Wealth doesn’t seem to have this same impact on any men in Glengarry, they desire it to a large extent but the pursuit of wealth does not consume them like it does Volpone. This is evident in the fact that throughout the play apart from Levene complaining that he can’t pay his bills, wealth is never really mentioned at all apart from Roma’s sales pitch, which may not even be a true reflection of Roma’s feelings as all of it may merely be a sale. Volpone then goes on to say “Open the shrine that I may see my saint”. Saint is referring to gold and the shrine is the most likely the chest or drawer in which his riches are contained. This downgrading of religion can be seen as rather blasphemous which would have no doubt of been intended to shock renaissance audiences whilst also showing how Volpone is a man lacking any morals except the purchase of wealth since religion was the moral compass of the time and still is to...
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