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Title: Violent Communication and Verbal Deception in Ben Jonson's "Volpone" and "The Alchemist"
Authors: Tosi, Laura
Keywords: Deceptive communicationVerbal violence in dramaJonsonian dramaHuman communicationSymmetrical and complementary interaction
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Laura Tosi, "Violent Communication and Verbal Deception in Ben Jonson's "Volpone" and "The Alchemist" ", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, VI (1999), pp. 147-161
Series/Report no.: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali
VI (1999)
One of the features of Jonsonian comedies is the high concentration of verbal violence. Jonson himself was known for having a fairly aggressive personality, as he passionately took part in the literary disputes of his time. His predilection for violent public communication was also well known. What should also be stressed, however, is the importance that Jonson gave to the study of the most conflictual aspects of human communication and the way it can deteriorate into downright destructive abuse. In this essay, the linguistic approach to deception will centre on the knaves’ verbal ability to manipulate their victims and their victims’ beliefs. "The Alchemist" and "Volpone" are two plays that provide sample strategies of verbal deceit. The article also proposes to refer to the Pragmatics of Communication of the Palo Alto group, since many concepts drawn from the theory (for example complementarity and the double bind) can be applied to the study of theatrical communication. The author identifies three patterns of deceptive communication used by the swindlers in the plays: adulation and praise of the desired object, one-directional communication, misrepresentation of the nature of the relationship between the knaves.
Type: Article
ISSN: 1123-2684
Appears in Collections:1999 / 6 Prospero. Rivista di culture anglo-germaniche

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