Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Comedy of Errors Act 5


1 down, 37 to go!

here is how our first play wrapped up:
the goldsmith (Angelo) runs into A and D of S with the chain, which really makes the goldsmith mad. Adriana, Luciana, and Emilia enter. A and D of S are deemed mad men and  take sanctuary with the Abbess (Emilia). The Duke and Egeon enter on the way to Egeon's execution, and Adriana begs him to help her get A of S back from Emilia. Then, of course, A and D of E enter begging the Duke for help. everyone starts giving the Duke their conflicting sob stories. Egeon and A of E are getting really confused when A and D of S and Emilia FINALLY enter and everyone FINALLY sees each other. Egeon and Emilia are reunited, Egeon is released, all is forgiven, and everything is resolved (almost). the end.

a lot of this act was re-hashing what we just saw throughout the first four acts through dialogue with Duke and Emilia. i wonder if, in future plays, he Shakespeare will spend as much time doing this. i also wonder if the resolutions will become any less predictable or if last-minute twists will be thrown in. i have read and seen a lot of the comedies, but i've never thought about them like this before so i can't really remember how the conclusions are handled.

guess what wasn't resolved? all of the issues between A of E and Adriana. i find this interesting considering my questions yesterday involving Shakespeare's fascination with unruly women and the way in which he deals with marriage in his plays. the marriage we don't really see (Egeon and Emilia) ends up just swell. the marriage that is actually dealt with in the play (A of E and Adriana) is one of lies and misery. and in the end, nothing is resolved there. will they work things out and try to be better to each other? or will they continue their nasty behavior towards each other? we have no clue. i think that the treatment of their relationship is just as intriguing to me as the fact that Shakespeare doesn't try to resolve it. also, although Emilia lectures Adriana on her treatment of A of E, it is unclear whether or not Adriana will be tamed.

my questions and interests remain: marriages and unruly women. i can't wait to dig in to more plays and see what we find.

quote of the day:
'we came into the world like brother and brother,
and now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.'
       -Antipholus of Ephesus; act 5, scene 1

NEXT UP! i will be reading the poem VENUS AND ADONIS.

for tomorrow: introduction and background, lines 1-126
friday: lines 127-570
saturday: lines 570-1194

-rebecca may


  1. I am not as eager to tackle the poems as I am the plays, but poetry has seldom been my art form of choice.

    I wish more people would respond or pose interesting questions.

    I think we will find a recurrent theme with miskaken identities, i.e. my favorite in that lineage, As You Like It. What is better than a breeches role with a man mistaking his truel love for a guy? In any case, I think the topic matures with the author, as other plays do not have the deus ex machina type of ending.

    You talk about Shakespeare's addresses on marriage--well, he certainly makes a statement! Look at the manipulation of Lady Macbeth or the evil pronouncement of Richard III, "I'll have her, but I will not keep her long." And of course, the rivalry between Oberon and Titania, the complete devotion of Portia, the total mismatch of Othello and Desdemona etc etc.

    Is it not a wonder that he left his wife "his second best" bed??

  2. Let's keep in mind that this one has not ever really been considered one of Shakespeare's best. He was young, hadn't done much in the way of writing full-length plays yet, and was still more heavily influenced by his boyhood readings than with the culture he was beginning to immerse himself in through the London theatre scene. The first thing any Creative Writing teacher asks is who have you read, and the second is who are you reading now? At this point in history, Moliere is really the King of English Comedies, and even then, "Tartuffe" had been a while ago and "Doctor Faustus" and "The Jew of Malta" were what people were really still thinking about. I honestly see all the issues you mentioned pretty much being in regards to his attempt at somehow combining Moliere-esque ideals of the period with the Neoclassical tenets that he was still stuck in before fully exposing himself to the Salon culture. Give the boy some time, he'll get you there.

    Super excited for "Venus and Adonis"! I'm actually a far greater fan of the sonnets, but it'll be a nice refresher, as I haven't looked at the epics in five or six years.

  3. Based on Rmay's opinion of this play, I don't know how I feel about it. Its one of the few Shakespeare comedies that I haven't read or seen. I feel like there was more to the characters than Rmay was describing, specifically the Courtesan and Angelo. Rmay and I had discussed this play briefly and I had asked if she was to audition/cast herself in this piece, there isn't a role she would want, maybe Adrianna. Personally, with this being one of Shakespeare's earlier comedies, I don't really feel like Shakespeare and slapstick comedy go together, so I, too, would be unsure of being cast in this piece, though it would be a fun learning experience. Any opinions from the readers that know me who you would cast me as? Or who yourself would want to be cast as?

    Dani, I agree with you, and find it very interesting, that Shakespeare gave his 2nd best bed to Anne Hathaway. However, this being said, why are Shakespeare's women such STRONG characters, no matter who they are, if his plays generally view marriage with disdain or sarcasm? Maybe I need to see some more Shakespeare.

    Also, Rmay asked me to post this question, which I had asked her on facebook. It does not pertain to Comedy of Errors, but I thought it would be interesting to ask. So, everybody reading this blog probably knows the curse of the Scottish Play. Well, my question is, if you are performing the Scottish Play in an outdoor/under the stars/theatre in the park, does it still count if you say the name in the theatre? Or just on the stage? Or does it count at all? Because it isn't inside? Does that affect it?


  4. Dr. Faustus continues to be one of my personal favorites. I read The Jew of Malta more years ago than even I want to consider, but re-read Faustus just last year or the year before. Of course, Tartuffe is one that we study in class, so I repeatedly look at that work.

    For those who are Marlowe and Shakespeare were one and the same shippers, this first play would seem to be evidence against. It is just not as sophisticated as any of Marlowe's work was towards the end to justify making a comparison.