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Miola , Philip C. This collection of essays and reviews represents the most significant and comprehensive writing on Shakespeare's AComedy of Errors. Miola's edited work also features a comprehensive critical history, coupled with a full bibliography and photographs of major productions of the play from around the world. In the collection, there are five previously unpublished essays. The topics covered in these new essays are women in the play, the play's debt to contemporary theater, its critical and performance histories in Germany and Japan, the metrical variety of the play, and the distinctly modern perspective on the play as containing dark and disturbing elements.
To compliment these new essays, the collection features significant scholarship and commentary on TheComedy of Errorsthat is published in obscure and difficulty accessible journals, newspapers, and other sources.
The Comedy of Errors
This collection brings together these essays for the first time. Themes and Structure in. Brave New World When Antipholus of Syracuse arrives, the merchant pays him a thousand marks and simultaneously warns him that a Syracusan was arrested that very day. Antipholus of Syracuse therefore has the chance to immediately ransom Egeon, and be reunited with his father. But it turns out that he is too self-absorbed throughout the entire beginning, preferring instead to walk alone through the street.
In this case he is referring to his search for his lost brother and father. Later, Adriana uses almost identical language when referring to her husband, and compares their separation to that of separating water. Thus the phrase stands for a joining of two people, and implies an intimate bond. The issue of primogeniture is one which Shakespeare plays with as well. In England the eldest son always has priority, but since they are twins it is impossible to know who is eldest. Thus, the two servants decide to enter through the door together, rather than fight over who is elder.
However, this issue has real historical implications. The story of Jacob and Esau, in which Jacob cheats his brother Esau out of the inheritance, is one every Christian would have known at the time. Also, there is the story of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, in which one twin kills the other. Thus, although in a comic setting, the use of twins in The Comedy of Errors is not necessarily inherently humorous.
A further theme that is constantly appearing in the play is that of bondage versus liberty. Starting in the first scene, where Egeon is bound and sentenced, the concept of binding people is made manifest. It continues with Adriana, who asks her sister why men have more liberty than their wives. This culminates in the end scenes where Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio are bound, and where Adriana demands that the Officer bind up Antipholus of Syracuse.
However, the ending of the play shows a change to liberty when the Duke orders Egeon set free, and all the characters end up at liberty. This is further played up in a humorous context by the two Dromios, who themselves are called bondsmen. Thus, when Dromio of Ephesus is bound, he turns and comments on the fact that he is now literally bound to his master.
There are two subtle concepts relating to the various beliefs about twins and sons which exist in the play. Twins used to be viewed as two separate paths which could be taken, of as a set of alternate paths. Sons were often considered to be extensions of their fathers. She eventually decries Adriana's jealousy not as, say, unwomanly or unbecoming of a wife but as "self-harming"; ultimately, then, her interest seems to lie in Adriana's personal well-being.
Also, while she allows for the possibility of E.
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Antipholus committing adultery, she may simply be wise enough to realize that her counsel is not going to prevent E. Antipholus from slighting his wife. He is obviously antagonistic and perhaps regularly abusive, as evidenced by his frequent beatings of E.
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Dromio and his declared intent to assault and even "disfigure" Adriana for her actions that day. In this sense, she may simply be a realist. Also, in referring to any possible adultery, in the course of just seven lines she pointedly uses the words "false love," "shame," "disloyalty," "vice," "tainted," and "sin," perhaps in a more subtle attempt to prevent just such adultery from occurring. Overall, then, Luciana can perhaps be understood as primarily an advocate and agent of reconciliation. A doctor, or conjurer of a sort, Pinch is brought in to cure E.
Antipholus of his supposed madness; E. Antipholus manages to strike Pinch in public, then later as reported by a messenger, to mildly torture Pinch. The second Merchant appears later in the play, requesting the repayment of a debt by Angelo. When Angelo cannot get the money from E. Antipholus, this Merchant has Angelo arrested. Later, Angelo and the Merchant come across S. Antipholus, who has the chain that E.
Antipholus had denied having. Angered, the second Merchant draws swords against S. Antipholus, who flees with S. After informing Egeon of his transgression—that is, appearing in Ephesus as a merchant from Syracuse—the duke listens sympathetically to Egeon's woeful tale. The duke then grants Egeon the remainder of the day to find the sum needed to buy his freedom. At day's end, as Egeon is being led to his execution, the family is reunited, with the duke serving as a mediator while the confusion is cleared up. The duke then releases Egeon without accepting E. Antipholus's money. The way the various characters in The Comedy of Errors view their respective identities is perhaps the play's most prominent theme.
The central quest for identity, of course, is that of S. Antipholus, whom the audience understands from early on to be seeking himself, to a great extent, in his twin brother; this understanding comes primarily from the speech in the first act in which he compares himself to a drop of water seeking another drop in an entire ocean.
Antipholus's definition of identity here as tantamount to a desire to cease to exist: "He envisions extinction—total merger with an undifferentiated mass—as the result of his search. Antipholus's search for identity can be understood as a possible step in the maturational process, whereby an adolescent might test the boundaries of his or her identity by fiercely identifying with someone such as a sibling—with such an identification between twins being especially strong.
Kahn concludes, "The irony … is that seeking identity by narcissistic mirroring leads only to the obliteration, not the discovery, of the self. Antipholus finds his twin, the extent to which he likewise "finds himself" is unclear, as the reunion between the two does not indicate that they share any instinctive connection.
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Adriana's conception of her identity is also of great concern and is, in fact, quite similar to that of S. Antipholus, in that she seeks to define herself in relation to another—namely, to her husband. Echoing S. Antipholus's remarks about feeling like a drop in an ocean seeking a particular other drop, Adriana compares herself to a drop of water in a gulf, where the entire gulf is understood to be her husband.
A difference between the two conceptions of identity, then, can relate to the extent to which the two characters wish to be merged, in essence, with others: S. Antipholus feels lost in the ocean and seeks to unite himself only with a single other drop, his brother; Adriana, meanwhile, is perhaps perfectly content to be lost in her gulf, her husband, as long as she is never forcibly removed from it.
These dual manners of defining the self through others may fairly reflect the play's greater conception of identity, as related by Barry Weller: "The familial embrace with which the community of Ephesus eventually receives and reassembles the scattered members of Egeon's household intimates the priority of corporate identities over the single and limited life of the individual consciousness.
A second theme that is closely linked to the first and that also relates to certain characters' motivations concerns the nature of love and of marriage. This topic is discussed at length by Adriana and Luciana, who give conflicting views of what it means to be married and to be in love. Adriana harkens back to her husband's courtship of her and laments that he no longer gives her the attention he once did.
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Peter G. Phialas points out that Adriana feels a need to maintain control of her husband's liberty. In this sense, he asserts, "Adriana's concept of love is the right to possess, to receive and own and be master of.