All 1 entries tagged He Vomits Crooked Pins

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December 31, 2007

He vomits crooked pins!

Vomiting pins was a characteristic symptom of possession, as described in numerous accounts from the period, perhaps most notably from the fraudulent case of Anne Gunter, in which the girl 'cast out of her mouth and throat needles and pins in an extraordinary fashion' (Johnston, Robert, Historia Rerum Britannicarum, 1655, p 401 qtd Sharpe, James, The Bewitching of Anne Gunter, 2000, p 182) but was revealed to be a fraud by King James and Samuel Harsnett (chaplain and assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury).

Volpone's success here in convincing Corvino and Corbaccio that Voltore is vomiting pins, without any visual evidence, reinforces the pair's absolute gullibility, and simultaneously draws attention to the power of Jonson's auditory text.  This kind of spotlight or commentary on spectatorship is not uncommon in Jonson, and frequently calls into question the need for spectacular substantiation of the text's demands.  For more on visual and auditory texts in Jonson, and contextual issues surrounding court vs public theatres and Jonson's relationship with designer Inigo Jones, see Richard Cave's chapter on Visualising Jonson's Text in Eds. Cave, Richard et al., Jonson and Theatre: Performance, Practice, and Theory, Routledge, London, 1999.

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