The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

08D6C99F-E2BF-4C67-A8D8-0F07030CC87DThe journey begins. I have committed to reading all 37 of William Shakespeare’s plays, one month for the next three years. It is all part of my #ShakeTheStacks challenge. You’re all invited to join me, as I read through the bard’s collection in chronological order (according to this website).

The first book up, The Comedy of Errors. This play is the story of two sets of twins who get all mixed up by everyone they run into. Its a true farce, with the comedy coming from bawdy jokes and moments of slapstick mistaken identity. It is also Shakespeare’s shortest play, and all the action takes place in the course of a day.

This was a fun place to start. The play is very straight forward, four men who keep getting confused. There isn’t a ton of substance to this play, but don’t let that confuse you with a lack of skill. Shakespeare does an excellent job of weaving the stories and characters together giving us scenes full of physical comedy and tons of wit. The characters are moving constantly and never quite have a breath, which leads to an enjoyable (and emotional) denouement.

While this play isn’t all silliness and running around, its mostly that. Its a sweet little treat, but nothing special (especially knowing other plays coming down the pipeline). I will say however, that even from this early work, Shakespeare is dealing with big themes and ideas. In this play we are confronted with womanhood. There is certainly some criticism of how women are rarely believed and how they are blamed for the woes that befall their husbands. Its an idea we see through out his work, and I loved seeing it this early on. We also are asked to hold the comedy of the play in stark contrast to the tragedy that precipitates it. A very Shakespearean device, and one that I love and appreciate for its complexity.

As far as structure and comedy this play is an A+. Its a great starting point,  language is straight forward and so is the plot. Have you read or seen this play? What do you think?

  • Paperback: 79 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (September 1, 1999)
  • 3/5 stars
  • Buy The Comedy of Errors on Amazon

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