Let's set the scene...
After Rory receives a D on a test in her literature class, she's determined to bring her grades up. Mr. Medina announces an upcoming test on our man, Billy Shakes! After Lorelai inadvertently learns of Rory's less-than-stellar grade during a parent-teacher conference, she devotes her time to helping Rory prepare. And in this scene, we learn that Lorelai's math skills are on par with my own.
Lorelai: ‘The Comedy of Errors’ - written?
Lorelai: Ooh 1623 - close
Rory: How is 1623 close?
Lorelai: You got the ‘16’ part right.
Rory: I was off by 75 years
Lorelai: Well anything under 100 years is close.
Rory: What kind of rule is that?
The last time I read any Shakespeare was in high school... so I was properly intimidated by episode four. And, I was pleasantly surprised. I remember struggling through Hamlet and Macbeth with the assistance of study guides, Cliffs Notes and my English teacher's guidance. Like most, Old English isn't something easily grasped by my brain that is otherwise filled with song lyrics, Beatles trivia and quotes from Friends. However, it wasn't so scary or difficult this time. I have a feeling that starting with one of his shorter plays helped a lot.
Essentially, The Comedy of Errors reminded me of an episode of Three's Company. Instead of Jack, Chrissy and Janet... we had The Antopholi and The Dromios. Instead of Mrs. & Mr. Roper (or, as in the later years, Ralph Furley)... we had Duke Solinus and Adriana. And the hilarity (and confusion) ensues. "Slapstick" and "madcap" aren't words that necessarily spring to mind when one thinks of Shakespeare, but the man can certainly write a comedy!
I have read that scholars argue that there is little depth and character analysis in this particular work, but I can see this as a commentary on how so many of life's problems can be attributed to mere misunderstanding. Shakespeare also ventured into the topics of class systems, marriage, adultery, and adult relationships throughout his short five acts. The Comedy of Errors is also one of only two plays written by the Bard that observe Aristotle's rules of classical unities. The classical unities (for those not in the know... or for those, like me who haven't yet Wikipedia'd it) consist of:
Unity of action- a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots.
Unity of place - a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.
Unity of time- the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.
Two sets of identical twins provide the basis for ongoing incidents of mistaken identity, within a lively plot of quarrels, arrests, and a grand courtroom denouement. One of Shakespeare's earliest dramatic efforts, the play abounds in his trademark conceits, puns, and other forms of fanciful wordplay, foreshadowing his later and greater comedies.
Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?
I believe that Emily would appreciate the humor and conflict in The Comedy of Errors. And I also think she'd love to namedrop to the other DAR darlings that she's currently reading William Shakespeare.