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

Annali di Ca’ Foscari. Serie Occidentale. 2017;51(1) DOI 10.14277/2499-1562/AnnOc-51-17-2


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Journal Title: Annali di Ca’ Foscari. Serie Occidentale

ISSN: 2499-2232 (Print); 2499-1562 (Online)

Publisher: Edizioni Ca’ Foscari

Society/Institution: Ca'Foscari University of Venice

LCC Subject Category: Language and Literature: Philology. Linguistics: Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar

Country of publisher: Italy

Language of fulltext: English, Dutch; Flemish, Italian, Spanish; Castilian, French, German, Portuguese, Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



De Scarpis, Valerio (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia)


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Time From Submission to Publication: 32 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

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.