Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s first plays. The minor characters, in the play, Egeon and the Duke, set up the framework of the play. Egeon, at the request of the Duke, describes his adventures and relates his life story. This provides the history of The Comedy of Errors, and helps keep track of the confusion, which unfolds during the play.
There are several themes that Shakespeare uses which are only loosely related to the actual comedy. The conflicts between burden and freedom, rule and compassion, loss and rebirth all form a critical undertone within the play. There is also the serious effect time. Shakespeare requires that all the action end at five o'clock, the time of Egeon's execution, Antipholus of Syracuse's meeting with the merchant, and the moment when Angelo must pay the Second Merchant his money.
There are also several coercions within the play. The comedy opens with Egeon unintentionally breaking the law, for which he is sentenced to death. In addition to this very real danger of death, there is also the risk that the play will end too soon. At various times the reader could assume the characters are close to revealing the entire plot and ending the play. These occur when Antipholus has the chance to demand payment from his father at the beginning, and also when both Dromios are on opposite sides of the door at Adriana's house.
The characters are meant to gain knowledge of something. For instance, the Duke claims th...
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