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Examples and Samples

The Comedy of Errors

“The Comedy of Errors” was written in early 1590ies and is considered to be one of William Shakespeare’s earliest plays. Being both the shortest and the most farcical, the play is characterized by unusual for Shakespeare humorous devices, as the humor mainly comes from slapstick and mistaken identity, as well as from traditional for him puns and play on words.

“The Comedy of Errors” is one of very few plays in the creative heritage of Shakespeare which observes the classical unities of time, place and action. The latter can probably be explained by the fact that the basis for it was taken from two Roman comedies.

The play is the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which is the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of strange and unusual misunderstandings based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful fights and adultery, which almost happens, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and accusations of infidelity, theft, insanity.

For centuries, scholars considered “The Comedy of Errors” to be the work of a slightly superficial nature. It was often stated that Shakespeare created the light comedy, making it much less serious than his histories, tragedies or later comedies. Recent research, however, used a different approach. They consider the play to be a series of social relationships, such as master-servant, husband-wife, parent-child, native-alien, buyer-seller and monarch-parliament, which, if rooted in a Roman past, acquire special significance in the transition to early modernity that constantly guides Shakespeare’s drama.


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