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MonkeyNotes-The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
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LITERARY BACKGROUND

Shakespeare drew upon a range of sources for material for his plays. This material he then crafted and marked with his own stamp. While the finished product of The Comedy of Errors is "original" in the best sense of the word, its plot is borrowed.

Shakespeare was a beginning playwright when he wrote The Comedy of Errors. It has often been assumed that this was his first work; it was first performed at Grays Inn on December 28, 1594 as part of the Christmas celebrations.

The chief source that Shakespeare used for this play is Plautus' Menaechmi, which is about the mixed identity of two twins. True to his ingenious 'feel' for stories that could be used for great dramatic effect, Shakespeare increased the number of sets of twins in his story, from one in the original source to two in his play. The potential for confusion was, thus, automatically doubled with this one gesture of innovative adaptation.


Shakespeare also adapted one scene for The Comedy of Errors from another play by Plautus called Amphitrus. He also drew from his own experience, both as a student in grammar school and as a teacher in a country school, to provide the figure of Dr. Pinch, a caricature of a schoolmaster. Another important deviation seen in The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare's use of blank verse. Unlike the original, he does not depend only on rhymed couplets.

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