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The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors

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The Comedy of Errors

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  1. The Comedy of Errors

  2. The Comedy of Errors • Shakespeare’s earliest comedy, although the exact date of writing is unknown. • It is also his shortest play - less than half the size of Hamlet which has over 4,000 lines. • The play’s premiere was at an inn in 1594, with its first performance at court in 1604.

  3. Plautus - 254-184 B.C. • As with many of Shakespeare’s plays, he drew inspiration from classical tales. The plot line for The Comedy of Errors comes from a Roman comedy, Menaechmi, written by the dramatist Plautus. • Shakespeare’s own amendments to the plot come in the addition of the extra set of identical Dromio twins plus the ‘fleshing out’ of the female characters in the play.

  4. The Comedy of Errors • The Comedy of Errors is also the only play of Shakespeare’s, other than The Tempest, which sets the action over a single day and a single place, in this case the city of Ephesus. • The real city of Ephesus is today located in Turkey, with the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

  5. Ephesus • In Roman times it became one of the wealthiest cities in the Mediterranean due to its proximity to the Aegean Sea, making its name and profit as a commercial port. • Shakespeare uses this stimulus to generate the commercial rivalry within the play between the two cities of Ephesus and Syracuse. It is this rivalry which leads the character Solinus, the Duke of Ephesus, to set laws forbidding merchants of Syracuse to trade in his city unless they pay a fine of 1000 marks.

  6. The Comedy of Errors • This law has dire consequences for Egeon who, at the beginning of the play, is sentenced to death for landing illegally in Ephesus, unless the fine is paid before the day is out.

  7. The Comedy of Errors • The play uses both farce and physical humor to portray the comedy confusion of two sets of twins constantly being mistaken for the other, with neither one being aware of the presence of their brother, and the play makes demands of its audience to keep track of the identities of the two sets of twins – the Antipholus men and the Dromio men.

  8. Farce • The word farce derives from Old French, meaning 'stuff' or 'stuffing' and may have originated in the comic interludes of medieval French religious plays serving as light-hearted stuffing in between more serious drama. • Definition: A light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect.

  9. The Comedy of Errors • It also has touching moments, telling the tragic story of a family separated for many years. So, within the humor of the play, we have moments of great emotion - combining sadness and loss with tender and poignant reconciliations.

  10. Agree or Disagree? • Coincidences happen all the time. • It’s not okay to mistreat those who work for you. • Promises and deals should always be kept. • Honor and reputation are everything. • Love and family heal all wounds. • Without trust, relationships are doomed. • Miracles do happen.

  11. Irony • The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning; Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

  12. 3 Types of Irony • Verbal: saying the opposite of what one means • Dramatic: contrast between what the speaker says and what the author means; when the reader knows something the character does not know • Situational: discrepancy between actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate

  13. CAST – Per 3 Twin Brothers, sons to Egeon and Emilia Twin Brothers, attendants on the two Antipholi

  14. CAST – Per 7 Twin Brothers, sons to Egeon and Emilia Twin Brothers, attendants on the two Antipholi

  15. Verse – find the lines • Prose .40 • Imagery • Lists • Repetition • Was ever woman in this humour woo’ed? Was ever woman in this humour won? • Antithesis • To be, or not to be • Soliloquy • Rhetoric – HV • Character • Atmospherer • Themes

  16. Characteristics of the Comedies{MOVE THIS TO Midsummer} • At least one heroine, more spirited than her male counterpart, undertakes a self-imposed mission to overcome conventional opposition • The female roles generally outsmart the males either in verbal conflict or by capturing them • The marital wrap-up looks only questionably happy, resolved for the sake of the children, that is, the future

  17. Characteristics of the Comedies • There are at least two marriageable couples; one is more broadly comic or even farcical than the other • At least one role is taught a lesson (Malvolio, Shylock, Prospero’s foes) • Adaptations abound: outright theft from a great variety of sources

  18. Characteristics of the Comedies • The action occupies two principal settings, sometimes contrasted, and a few subsidiary ones • A healing of social and personal wounds will follow from a night or nightmare, an endurance test or rite of passage, a social ritual or a mockery of one

  19. Characteristics of the Comedies • The playwright manipulates different levels of awareness, using multi-layered dramatic irony and often conspiracies • Conflicts between generations: young lovers defy and usually defeat paternalism

  20. Characteristics of the Comedies • Further impediments to marriage are sure to crop up • An undercutting or overlaying of the comic form Shakespeare inherited from Plautus and Terrance

  21. Characteristics of the Comedies • In every comedy (but not only in the comedies) we find the presence of at least one fool • Inconsistencies crop up when the principal roles alter under the impact of the plotting, to reveal new aspects of themselves • In a Shakespearean comedy, the action typically opens with a previously stable action already in flux and now a conflict or tone of sadness rules the scene; structure consists in creating favorable expectations, only to fulfill them or leave them unfulfilled