Comedy of Errors

Separation and Unity as Themes That Create Order in The Comedy of Errors College

Shakespearian comedies often address the widely-accepted notion in Elizabethan England that suggested that order and balance should prevail both in the world and in performed representations of the world, even if the form of the plays often employed a sense of comic disorder. Social, noble, and spiritual hierarchies are described through language and events in nearly all of Shakespeare’s work, although the methods by which he created structure in his plays differs. In many of the comedies, including Twelfth Night and Measure for Measure, Shakespeare uses comedy caused by situations that are chaotic or confusing to reveal an underlying order within the universe. The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies, does exactly this in several ways. He establishes order not by the events (many of the scenes are confusing for both audience and characters), but by enforcing a structure in which themes are perfectly balanced. Specifically, this play uses a recurring balance between unity and separation to suggest that, even in a fictional world that is highly illogical, an underlying sense of order fuels the plot. References to unity and separation are constant from the play’s beginning to end: the idea of unity is...

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