The Portrayal of Women in Jonson's Volpone Women for centuries have fought against a male dominated society in order to achieve a more equal standing. This same society and its stereotypes of women have proven to be a hindrance to accomplishing this lofty goal. These stereotypes prevailed in renaissance England and flourished in many of the female characters in the literature. Ben Jonson's classic comedy, Volpone, surely falls into this category. The portrayal of Celia and Lady Would-Be in Volpone reflects the misperceptions and low status of women in Renaissance England. Celia reveals herself initially, however briefly, in Act II, Scene II. She does not speak but simply observes Volpone from her window, dropping her handkerchief to
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Lady Would-Be first comes into view in Act III, Scene IV and does not make a good first impression. Lady Would-Be proves to be the typical self-absorbed, superficial woman. She seems obsessed with looks and berates her servants for not meeting her stringent standards of appearance. Lady Would-Be states, "I, that have preach'd these things so oft unto you, [r]ead you the principles, argu'd all the grounds, [d]isputed every fitness, every grace, [c]all'd you to counsel of so frequent dressings-." Her servant's lack of attention to dress appalls and angers her. Lady Would-Be expresses her opinion as to why proper dress and attention to appearance is vital to every woman. She preaches to her servants that the "knowledge of these things would be unto you, [a]ble alone to get you noble husbands
" Lady Would-Be only concerns herself with what will please men, not necessarily herself.
This concern with the opinions of others allows Mosca to easily manipulate and use Lady Would-Be as another pawn in his devious game. Mosca misleads Lady Would-Be to believe that her husband in speaking publicly with another woman, has been unfaithful to her; this allows her to additionally play the role of the jealous wife, a woman scorned. Concerned about how her husband's promiscuity would affect her own societal appearance, Lady Would-Be actually mistakes Peregrine for a woman. She becomes consumed with jealousy at the thought of her husband's infidelity, but upon realizing that