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A Context-Based Investigation of the ‘Jewel’ Crux in The Comedy of Errors

Valerio De Scarpis    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



This paper addresses a frustrating crux found in a passage of the textus receptus (the 1623 First Folio, the only substantive text for Errors). Editors have tried to make sense of the conundrum of this passage by applying emendations. Attention to the rhetorical strategies employed by the Author and to the surrounding context of discourse can throw some light on the intended meaning: equivocation is one of the most effective rhetorical devices available for comedy and rhetorical figures pertaining to the field of aequivocatio are at the grass-roots of this drama. Punning offers a solution to the hermeneutical puzzle of the passage by helping to unravel the crux: it participates in a compositional strategy that encompasses the entire play. Quibbling and double entendre, far from being superficial expedients to elicit humour, here must be understood as constituting a fundamental productive means to develop the play’s rationale and to flesh-out the personality of its characters.

Sept. 28, 2017
May 12, 2017
March 6, 2017

Keywords: ShakespeareCruxErrorsAmphibology

Copyright: © 2017 Valerio De Scarpis. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.