February 23, 2012
A Flawed Justice System
When a society has a problem and it needs to be dealt with in a fair manner, the society turns to its judicial system, which lays down the rules of how to go about the case and determine the punishment. There were many different societies that enforced a law system according to their needs and population, and this goes the same for the era. Ben Jonson and Jonathan Swift are two very popular and well respected authors of satire, who have made stories that made society question the judicial system that they carried. Ben Jonson satirizes the judicial system in his play Volpone, a ...view middle of the document...
For example, When Voltore speaks of Bonario in lines 80-90, he states that Bonario “dragged forth the aged gentleman, that had there lain bedrid three years and more, out of his innocent couch(p.1399)” which the avocatores find ridiculous but can find no proof against the statement. Corvino then speaks of his wife Celia, stating that she “is a whore of most hot exercise, more than a partridge, upon record—(p.1400)” and that she is “a creature of a most professed and prostituted lewdness(p.1401)”. It is clear that they are merely trying to ruin the reputation that Celia and Bonario have in order to win over the avocatores, which succeeded temporarily. The satire in this would be the way the court is carried, where the weak and innocent are only give a brief chance to defend themselves, but even then the people with power are the real decision makers. It is possible that Jonson has seen many cases such as these before, and felt a need to point out the flaws in the system when it comes to greed. In lines 50 through 60, the fourth avocatore is seen being slowly corrupted by the knowledge of Volpone’s “death” and considers marrying his daughter to the newly inherited Mosca(p.1424). While the avocatore is supposed to be fair and be protecting the innocent, he is mesmerized by the words of Mosca and how he is the heir to the grand fortune of Volpone, which shows how even the just can be corrupted if persuaded correctly. In a critical review by Thomas J. Schoenberg, it should be noted that Jonson gives Mosca and Volpone the ability to “weave the minds” of the characters who so desperately seek a position in the will, so powerful that the influence reaches to the authorities(Schoenberg).
Although portrayed differently, Jonathan Swift mocks the judicial system through a conversation that Gulliver and then King of Brobdingnag have. Throughout the conversation, Gulliver is speaking boastfully of England and all of it's greatness. Gulliver does so by stating that everything is to proportion back in England, and begins answering the questions the king of Brobdingnag had to ask. At the end of the explanation, the king of Brobdingnag belittles England, comparing the things that Gulliver said to the nature of insects. “These creatures have their titles and distinctions of honor; they contrive little nests and burrows, that they call houses and cities;(Gulliver's Travels p.2379).” Here the king is clearly mocking the way the society of England works, and how the people from England agree to certain customs which the king found ridiculous, and after some thought, as did Gulliver. Gulliver told the king of Brobdingnag about the highest court of Judicature, where there could be no appeal, the House of Commons, and the the Courts of Justice, which he...