When a play that was written by William Shakespeare is presented to an audience, the audience automatically assumes that the play will have tragic or dramatic connotation. But is there a such thing as a Shakespearean comedy? This question is answered when Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is read. In this play, Shakespeare creates comedy using awkward situations and playing on different words.
The first situation in the play that is “slightly” abnormal is the general scenario. There are identical twin brothers that are split up at a very young age. This is believable. It even has probably happened in real life before. The mind-blowing part of this equation is that the identical twin brothers have identical twin servants that were split up at birth in the same fashion. Coincidentally, one servant ends up in on the city of Syracuse with one of the brothers and the other servant ends up in Ephesus with the other brother. Both sets of twin brothers had the same name. Both masters were Antipholous and both servants were Dromio. Is that not ironic?
Shakespeare also creates comedy by making fun of other characters. For example, in Act 3, Scene 2, Dromio of Syracuse, servant of Antipholous of Syracuse, is making fun of a woman who thought that he was the other Dromio and tried to “jump his bones”. He says, “she is spherical, like a globe. I could find countries in her” (p.36) Dromio finds such countries as England and France. “I looked for the chalky cliffs, but I could find no whiteness in them. But I guess it stood in her chin, by the salt rheum that ran between France and it” (p.36).
Shakespeare begins using puns to create comedy early on in the play. For example, Shakespeare writes “And he will bless that cross with other beating. Between you I shall have a holy head” (p.16). In this passage Shakespeare is playing on the words bless, cross, and holy. The cross being a symbol of the Christian faith will be struck over someone’s head giving them a holy or “wholly” head. Funny!
There are many examples of puns and situations. But to get the actual feeling for the comedy in it all, it would be best to read or go see the play. A lot of the comedy involved is based on the director’s interpretation.