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Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson was born around June 11, 1572, the posthumous son of a clergyman. He was
educated at Westminster School by the great classical scholar William Camden and worked
in his stepfather's trade, bricklaying. The trade did not please him in the least, and he joined
the army, serving in Flanders. He returned to England about 1592 and married Anne Lewis
on November 14, 1594.

Jonson joined the theatrical company of Philip Henslowe in London as an actor and
playwright on or before 1597, when he is identified in the papers of Henslowe. In 1597 he
was imprisoned in the Fleet Prison for his involvement in a satire entitled The Isle of Dogs,
declared seditious by the authorities. The following year Jonson killed a fellow actor, Gabriel
Spencer, in a duel in the Fields at Shoreditch and was tried at Old Bailey for murder. He
escaped the gallows only by pleading benefit of clergy. During his subsequent imprisonment
he converted to Roman Catholicism only to convert back to Anglicism over a decade later, in
1610. He was released forfeit of all his possessions, and with a felon's brand on his thumb.

Jonson's second known play, Every Man in His Humour, was performed in 1598 by the Lord
Chamberlain's Men at the Globe with William Shakespeare in the cast. Jonson became a
celebrity, and there was a brief fashion for 'humours' comedy, a kind of topical comedy
involving eccentric characters, each of whom represented a temperament, or humor, of
humanity. His next play, Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), was less successful. Every
Man Out of His Humour and Cynthia's Revels (1600) were satirical comedies displaying
Jonson's classical learning and his interest in formal experiment.

Jonson's explosive temperament and conviction of his superior talent gave rise to "War of the
Theatres". In The Poetaster (1601), he satirized other writers, chiefly the English dramatists
Thomas Dekker and John Marston. Dekker and Marston retaliated by attacking Jonson in
their Satiromastix (1601). The plot of Satiromastix was mainly overshadowed by its abuse of
Jonson. Jonson had portrayed himself as Horace in The Poetaster, and in Satiromastix
Marston and Dekker, as Demetrius and Crispinus ridicule Horace, presenting Jonson as a
vain fool. Eventually, the writers patched their feuding; in 1604 Jonson collaborated with
Dekker on The King's Entertainment and with Marston and George Chapman on Eastward
Ho.

Jonson's next play, the classical tragedy Sejanus, His Fall (1603), based on Roman history
and offering an astute view of dictatorship, again got Jonson into trouble with the authorities.
Jonson did not, however, learn a lesson, and was again briefly imprisoned, with Marston and
Chapman, for controversial views "something against the Scots" espoused in Eastward Ho
(1604). These two incidents jeopardized his emerging role as court poet to King James I.
Having converted to Catholicism, Jonson was also the object of deep suspicion after the
Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes (1605).
In 1605, Jonson began to write masques for the entertainment of the court. The earliest of his
masques, The Satyr was given at Althorpe, and Jonson seems to have been appointed Court
Poet shortly after. The masques displayed his erudition, wit, and versatility and contained
some of his best lyric poetry. Masque of Blacknesse (1605) was the first in a series of
collaborations with Inigo Jones, noted English architect and set designer. This collaboration
produced masques such as The Masque of Owles, Masque of Beauty (1608), and Masque of
Queens (1609), which were performed in Inigo Jones' elaborate and exotic settings. These
masques ascertained Jonson's standing as foremost writer of masques in the Jacobean era.
The collaboration with Jones was finally destroyed by intense personal rivalry.

Jonson's enduring reputation rests on the comedies written between 1605 and 1614. The first
of these, Volpone, or The Fox (performed in 1605-1606, first published in 1607) is often
regarded as his masterpiece. The play, though set in Venice, directs its scrutiny on the rising
merchant classes of Jacobean London. The following plays, Epicoene: or, The Silent Woman
(1609), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614) are all peopled with dupes and
those who deceive them. Jonson's keen sense of his own stature as author is represented by
the unprecedented publication of his Works, in folio, in 1616. He was appointed as poet
laureate and rewarded a substantial pension in the same year.

In 1618, when he was about forty-five years old, Jonson set out for Scotland, the home of his
ancestors. He made the journey entirely by foot, in spite of dissuasion from Bacon. The
comedy The Devil is an Ass (1616) had turned out to be a comparative flop. This may have
discouraged Jonson, for it was nine years before his next play, The Staple of News (1625),
was produced. Instead, Jonson turned his attention to writing masques. Jonson's later plays
The New Inn (1629) and A Tale of a Tub (1633) were not great successes, described harshly,
but perhaps justly by Dryden as his "dotages."

Despite these apparent failures, and in spite of his frequent feuds, Jonson was the dean and
the leading wit of the group of writers who gathered at the Mermaid Tavern in the Cheapside
district of London. The young poets influenced by Jonson were the self-styled 'sons' or 'tribe'
of Ben, later called the Cavalier poets, a group which included, among others, Robert
Herrick, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, and Richard Lovelace.

Jonson was appointed City Chronologer of London in 1628, the same year in which he
suffered a severe stroke. His loyal friends kept him company in his final years and attended
the King provided him some financial comfort. Jonson died on August 6, 1637 and was
buried in Westminster Abbey under a plain slab on which was later carved the words, "O
Rare Ben Jonson!" His admirers and friends contributed to the collection of memorial elegies,
Jonsonus virbius, published in 1638. Jonson's last play, Sad Shepherd's Tale, was left
unfinished at his death and published posthumously in 1641.
Ben Jonson work in the form of drama like:
Volpone or The Fox (1606)

Volpone (The Fox) is a Venetian gentleman who pretends to be on his deathbed after a long
illness in order to dupe Voltore (The Vulture), Corbaccio (The Raven) and Corvino (The
Crow), three men who aspire to inherit his fortune. In their turns, each man arrives to
Volpones house bearing a luxurious gift, intent upon having his name inscribed to the will of
Volpone, as his heir. Mosca (The Fly), Volpones parasite servant, encourages each man,
Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, to believe that he has been named heir to Volpones
fortune; in the course of which, Mosca persuades Corbaccio to disinherit his own son in
favour of Volpone.

To Volpone, Mosca mentions that Corvino has a beautiful wife, Celia. Disguised as Scoto
the Mountebank, Volpone goes to see Celia. Corvino drives away "Scoto" (Volpone), who
then becomes insistent that he must possess Celia as his own. Mosca deceives Corvino into
believing that the moribund Volpone will be cured of his illness if he lies in bed beside a
young woman. Believing that Volpone has been rendered impotent by his illness, Corvino
offers his wife in order that, when he is revived, Volpone will recognise Corvino as his sole
heir.

Just before Corvino and Celia are due to arrive at Volpone's house, Corbaccios son
Bonario arrives to catch his father in the act of disinheriting him. Mosca guides Bonario to a
sideroom, and Volpone and Celia are left alone. Upon failing to seduce Celia with fantastic
promises of luxury and wealth, Volpone attempts to rape her. Bonario comes forward to
rescue Celia. In the ensuing trial at court, the truth of the matter is well-buried by Voltore,
using his prowess as a lawyer to convince the Avocatori, with false evidence given by Mosca,
Volpone and the other dupes.

There are episodes involving the English travellers Sir and Lady Politic Would-Be and
Peregrine. Sir Politic constantly talks of plots and his outlandish business plans, while Lady
Would-Be annoys Volpone with her ceaseless talking. Mosca co-ordinates a mix-up between
them which leaves Peregrine, a more sophisticated traveller, feeling offended. He humiliates
Sir Politick by telling him he is to be arrested for sedition and making him hide inside a giant
tortoise shell.

Volpone insists on disguising himself and having it announced that he has died and willed his
wealth to Mosca, which enrages the would-be heirs Voltore, Corbaccio and Corvino, and
everyone returns to court to dispute the will of Volpone, who becomes entangled in the
circumstances of the plots that he and Mosca devised. Despite Volpone's pleas, Mosca
refuses to relinquish his new role as a rich man; Volpone reveals himself, and his deceits, in
order to topple the rich Mosca; in the event, Voltore, Corbaccio, Corvino, Mosca and
Volpone himself finally are punished.
The Alchemist (1610)
The play opens with a violent argument between Subtle and Face concerning the division
of the riches which they have, and will continue to gather. Face threatens to have an
engraving made of Subtle with a face worse than that of the notorious highwayman Gamaliel
Ratsey. Dol breaks the pair apart and reasons with them that they must work as a team if they
are to succeed. Their first customer is Dapper, a lawyer's clerk who wishes Subtle to use his
supposed necromantic skills to summon a "familiar" or spirit to help in his gambling
ambitions. The tripartite suggest that Dapper may win favour with the "Queen of Fairy," but
he must subject himself to humiliating rituals in order for her to help him. Their second gull
is Drugger, a tobacconist, who is keen to establish a profitable business. After this, a wealthy
nobleman, Sir Epicure Mammon, arrives, expressing the desire to gain himself the
philosopher's stone, which he believes will bring him huge material and spiritual wealth. He
is accompanied by Surly, a sceptic and debunker of the whole idea of alchemy. He is
promised the philosopher's stone and promised that it will turn all base metal into gold. Surly
however, suspects Subtle of being a thief. Mammon accidentally sees Dol and is told that she
is a Lord's sister who is suffering from madness. Subtle contrives to become angry with
Ananias, an Anabaptist, and demands that he should return with a more senior member of his
sect (Tribulation). Drugger returns and is given false and ludicrous advice about setting up
his shop; he also brings news that a rich young widow (Dame Pliant) and her brother (Kastril)
have arrived in London. Both Subtle and Face in their greed and ambition seek out to win the
widow.
Lovewits neighbours tell him that his house had many visitors during his absence. Face is
now the plausible Jeremy again, and denies the accusation he has kept the house locked up
because of the plague. Surly, Mammon, Kastril and the Anabaptists return. There is a cry
from the privy, Dapper has chewed through his gag. Jeremy can no longer maintain his
fiction. He promises Lovewit that if he pardons him, he will help him obtain himself a rich
widow . Dapper meets the "Queen of Fairy" and departs happily. Drugger delivers the
Spanish costume and is sent to find a parson. Face tells Subtle and Dol that he has confessed
to Lovewit, and that officers are on the way, Subtle and Dol have to flee, empty handed.

The victims come back again. Lovewit has married the widow and claimed Mammon's
goods,Surly and Mammon depart disconsolately. The Anabaptists and Drugger are
summarily dismissed. Kastril accepts his sister's marriage to Lovewit. Lovewit pays tribute to
the ingenuity of his servant, and Face asks for the audience's forgiveness.

The Silent Woman (1609)


Every Man in His Humour (1598)
Bartholomew Fair (1614)

The play begins with an extended bit of metadrama; the company's stage-keeper enters,
criticising the play about to be performed because it lacks romantic and fabulous elements.
He is then pushed from the stage by the book-keeper, who (serving as prologue) announces a
contract between author and audience. The contract appears to itemise Jonson's
discontentment with his audiences: Members are not to find political satire where none is
intended; they are not to take as oaths such innocuous phrases as "God quit you"; they are not
to "censure by contagion", but must exercise their own judgment; moreover, they are allowed
to judge only in proportion to the price of their ticket. Perhaps most important, they agree not
to expect a throwback to the sword-and-buckler age of Smithfield, for Jonson has given them
a picture of the present and unromantic state of the fair.
The climax of the play occurs at the puppet show. Madame Overdo and Win are brought in,
masked, as prostitutes; Madame Overdo is drunk. Overdo is still in disguise, and Quarlous
has disguised himself as Trouble-All; in this guise, he stole the marriage license from
Winwife and made it into a license for himself and Purecraft. The puppet show, a burlesque
of Hero and Leander and Damon and Pythias, proceeds until Busy interrupts, claiming that
the play is an abomination because the actors are cross-dressed. The puppets refute him
decisively by raising their clothes, revealing that they have no sex. Busy announces himself
converted into a "beholder" of plays.

At this point, Justice Overdo reveals himself, intent on uncovering the "enormities" he has
witnessed at the fair. He is in the process of punishing all of the various schemers and
malefactors when his wife (still veiled) throws up and begins to call for him. Abashed,
Overdo takes the advice of Quarlous and forgives all parties; Winwife marries Grace,
Quarlous marries Purecraft, and all the characters are invited to Overdo's house for supper.

Benjamin Jonson / Ben Jonson was born circa June 11, 1572 in London. After a stint in the
army, he established himself as an actor and playwright. His first major success was Every
Man In His Humour (1598). From there, Jonson went on to become a favorite of King James
I, who may have made him poet laureate. Jonson's other plays include Volpone (1605), The
Alchemist (1610) and Bartholomew Fair (1614).
Daftar Pustaka

https://www.biography.com/people/ben-jonson-40950 Diakses 11 November 2017.

http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/jonson/benbio.htm Diakses 12 November 2017

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartholomew_Fair_(play) Diakses 10 November


2017

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volpone Diakses 11 November 2017

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Alchemist_(play) Diakses 12 November 2017

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