Citizen Shakespeare: Freemen and Aliens in the Language of by John Michael Archer (auth.)

By John Michael Archer (auth.)

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Extra resources for Citizen Shakespeare: Freemen and Aliens in the Language of the Plays

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The reference opens a small window on a droll piece of customer relations practiced by members of the Barber–Surgeons’ company, while subtly pitching company practices and city laws against each other. Jests and allusions like these form a linguistic continuum that flows alongside the plot’s realization of the play’s city setting. And a play need not be set in a city or town to sustain such urban language. ”8 Antithesis, however, implies relation. It is necessary to look at a much wider range of plays than the near-city comedies to judge the place of the city on Shakespeare’s comic stage.

The designation of “guilders” as the currency of Syracuse imparts a subtle Netherlandish cast to Egeon and the city of his nativity. Comedy of Errors is the only Shakespeare play in which guilders appear, and they stand out from the equally foreign but more conventional “marks” and “ducats” later on. Though fanciful and far removed from C o m e dy : C i v i l S ay i n g s 25 English dealings with merchants from the Low Countries or the Spaniards who occupied them, Egeon’s predicament would have been very intelligible in its outlines to an Elizabethan audience.

Aside from its Induction, The Taming of the Shrew, closer in time to The Comedy of Errors, is mostly set in Padua, but the taming itself occurs at Petrucchio’s rural estate. Love’s Labour’s Lost presents a somewhat different, and somewhat more complicated, case than these plays. It is shot through with urban concerns despite the total absence of city settings for its apparently rustic and aristocratic action. The prominent role played by the Spaniard Armado offers a clue to the urban texture of the comedy.

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