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"People will do anything to get what they want, no matter how foolish". Discuss ways in which Jonson in ‘Volpone’ and Chaucer in ‘The Wife of Bath’ represent ambition.

This is a comparative question asking you to examine the way in which ambition effects the actions of the characters and is represented by the authors. For comparative question, it is important to pick out both similarities and differences if you can. You must also ensure that you include quotations from both literary works. This can be both long and short quotations, however, when it comes to writing an answer under exam conditions then shorter quotations may be a better option. In addition, you must remember to include an analysis of the quotes used, historical context and critical analysis of the text. The critical analysis can include feminist, historical, marxist or political readings. 

Here are a couples of example points you could include in this answer. Following your point you would need to added quotations, analysis of quotations, critical and contextual analysis.  

1) Both authors present ambition as causing characters to manipulate those around them. Symbolised in the Wife of Bath by the Wife's need for mastery. In Volpone, the main characters manipulate those around them in order to enhance their position in society and their personal wealth. 

2) Loyalty centres on what others can offer. In the Wife of Bath, this is examplified by her relationship with her husbands, particularly the first three. In Volpone, this is highlighted through the relationship between Mosca and Volpone. Mosca's growing independence and ambition throughout the play and his declining resilience on Volpone results in him double crossing Volpone. 

These are just two examples of points that could be used to answer this question. You should plan to make three to four points in an exam. In addition, it is essential that the points you make answer the question so make sure that prior to starting the question you underline the key words, understand what is being asked of you and make a plan. 

Milly A. A Level English Literature tutor, GCSE English Literature tu...

12 months ago

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