Exploring The Waste Land
An allusion page linked from The Waste Land, Part II, line 118

The Devil's Law-case
Act III - Scene ii
John Webster

Eliot's note to line 118 tells us to compare his line

to The Devil's Law Case, Act 3, Scene 2, the play by John Webster. (published 1620.)

Lord Contarino wants to marry Jolenta but her brother, Romelio, disapproves. In the course of the play Contarino gets involved in a duel and is seriously wounded. In act 3, scene 2, Romelio disguises himself and on a pretext (and with a bribe) gets two surgeons to give him private access to Contarino. He stabs Contarino but is discovered by the surgeons. Romelio reveals himself and he again bribes the surgeons. They accept the bribe since they believe Contarino was going to die shortly anyway. After Romelio leaves the surgeons hear a groan from Contarino and they discover that the stabbing has actually improved his condition. They think that this too is to their advantage since they can get hush money from Romelio and also be paid by Contarino for his cure.

From the play (the complete scene is also here):




Did he not groan?


Is the wind in that door still?


Ha! Come hither, note a strange accident:
His steel has lighted in the former wound,
And made free passage for the congealed blood.
Observe in what abundance it delivers
The putrefaction.


Methinks he fetches
His breath very lively.


The hand of heaven is in't,
That his intent to kill him should become
The very direct way to save his life.

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T 134 - Webster, John
T 62 - Jacobean tragedy


L 263 - The Devil's Law-Case - A synopsis
Scene by scene synopsis of the play by John Webster. At the Kit Marlowe, P.I. website.

Exploring The Waste Land
File name: aq118.html
File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002
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