Are you familiar with that feeling of overwhelming frustration when you’re watching a TV show or movie and the events are so ridiculously avoidable you find yourself yelling at the TV?
Things I have yelled at the TV (out loud) include, but are not limited to:
- You MORON don’t go in there!
- That is a TERRIBLE idea!
- DON’T DO IT!
- OMG just ask them!
- How are you not seeing this?!?
I imagine that way back in the 16th century when lawyers and the likes were watching Comedy of Errors they experienced similar frustrations. They may have even screamed similar things at the actors on stage.
The basic plot is a case of mistaken identity wherein two sets of twins are separated at birth. I know, sooooo derivative, right? It’s okay, though – Shakespeare did it for the LOLZ.
As I was saying, there are two sets of twins, Antipholus x2 and Dromio x2, who are separated at birth. The result are two sets of Antipholus & Dromio, who are master and servant, respectively, roaming the earth. The same incident which separates the twins also separates the parents. A series of events lead to the reunion of all parties in Ephesus where an execution is stayed, an imprisonment avoided, and a marriage is saved.
Comedy of Errors is speculated to be one of Shakespeare’s early works, which makes sense as this play seems to have been written before Shakespeare fell in love with soliloquies and monologues. The lack thereof made the play short, easy to follow, and rather enjoyable if I do say so myself. It did also lack the characteristic saturation of philosophical pontification of Shakespearian plays, and was light on the typical heavy-handed lamentation I’ve become accustomed to from his characters. The exception being the lamentation of both Dromios, who complained at length of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their masters. I think we can all agree those complaints are warranted; violence and abuse are not enjoyed by anyone, especially someone who was tragically sold in to slavery at the time of their birth.
The comedy of the play is set against a backdrop of genuinely tragic events; the comedic confusion arising from mistaken identities is presented within the context of loss, grief, violence, death and slavery. An observation made by those with greater academic minds than my own observe that this juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy serve as an exploration of the relationship between the two. It also provides an interesting study of perspective as the audience, who knows all, is able to appreciate the comedic elements of the scenes, while the characters themselves are unaware of those elements and therefore are unable to appreciate their humour.
Overall, I say “Good show, Shakespeare!”
Next up on the list…*drom roll*…more Shakespeare!
Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen! For my next read the jar has produced The Tragedy of Julius Ceasar.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised as Shakespeare represents a quarter of my remaining List reads…