Comedy of Errors

Analysis and criticism

For centuries, scholars have found little thematic depth in The Comedy of Errors. Harold Bloom, however, wrote that it "reveals Shakespeare's magnificence at the art of comedy",[3] and praised the work as showing "such skill, indeed mastery--in action, incipient character, and stagecraft--that it far outshines the three Henry VI plays and the rather lame comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona".[4] Stanley Wells also referred to it as the first Shakespeare play "in which mastery of craft is displayed".[5] The play was not a particular favourite on the eighteenth century stage because it failed to offer the kind of striking roles that actors such as David Garrick could exploit.

The play was particularly notable in one respect. In the earlier eighteenth century some critics followed the French critical standard of judging the quality of a play by its adherence to the classical unities, as specified by Aristotle in the fourth century BC. The Comedy of Errors and The Tempest were the only two of Shakespeare's plays to comply with this standard.[6]

Law professor Eric Heinze, however, claims that particularly notable in the play is a series of social relationships, which is in crisis as it sheds its feudal forms, and confronts the market forces of early modern Europe.[7]


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