THE DOUBLE-PROCESS: READING THE ‘BODY’ IN BEN JONSON’S VOLPONE
This paper will try to unearth the multiple possibilities of examining the ‘body’ as the agent of performance and the politics that seems to loom large over the concept when it comes to its representation in the theatre. Ben Jonson’s comic masterpiece Volpone (1606) is a play that chiefly dwells in the proliferation of the “doubleprocess”— that is, the confirmation and the deliberate rejection of the body. This aspect of rejection of the body on the stage (which is always in the mode of representation) can be seen as a ploy adopted by Jonson to cater to the whims and aspirations of the Renaissance theatre-going public given their increasing concern over human anatomy which has had almost become an obsession at that point of time. The coterie of characters which gain an upper
hand in terms of ‘body- rejection’ are the minions of Volpone—Nano, Castrano, Andryogeno— who are accorded a significant interest in the consideration of the politics of the body. The paper will enter the discussion through a cursory estimate of the usage and perception of the body during the Renaissance much of which was governed by the ideals of Renaissance humanism fashioned by Giambattista Vico and Jackob Brukhardth. In the process of this discussion, the paper will try to suggest possibilities in order to authenticate the anthropocentric view which dominated much of the critical debates of the time. Lastly, the paper will try to analyse the characters according to their humours and in doing so, will place Jonson and his age in the present context to assess the viability and universality of the human subject with an Indian subject position.
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