Article

Ceremony and Selfhood in <i>The Comedy of Errors</i> (<i>c</i>.1592)

Alison Findlay

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199566471
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199566471.013.0021

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Ceremony and Selfhood in The Comedy of Errors (c.1592)

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This article suggests that Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors is almost obsessively concerned with the minutiae of social decorum in the present: in the immediacy of performance and in the present of late Tudor England. The play dramatizes repeated breakdowns in the ceremonial structures that govern social interaction in everyday life. The play's farcical miss-encounters are hilarious, but the laughter they provoke is brittle. It is born of an embarrassment that is, in turn, born of recognition: a recognition that urban social order is as fragile as egg shell, always on the verge of collapse in the present of late Tudor London no less than on the streets of Ephesus.

Keywords: Tudor theatre; plays; comedies; social decorum; social interaction; social order

Article.  8616 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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