Plato states that: “The measure of a man is what he does with his power.” But is this true? Or does it depend on a person’s money and possessions? Perhaps it is the family they were born into, or even their gender. And how can reputation affect your class standing? In “The Comedy of Errors” William Shakespeare explores the interplay of these various possibilities that can determine a person’s class.
Shakespeare shows us that a persons family can determine their social status. As well as affect how they are treated. Taking for example the twin Dromios, they came from an extremely poor family. “A mean woman was deliverèd / Of such a burden, male twins, both alike.” (Ⅰ.Ⅰ.54) Because their mother was so poor they were adopted by Egeon, however as opposed to becoming his children they became servants for his biological children (also twins) with each twin receiving his own minion. Throughout the Dromios lives they remained servants, even when they were split apart they stayed with their master. Being servants for different masters meant that they were treated differently. Dromio of Ephesus was beaten and kept uneducated “I have some marks of yours upon my pate, / Some of my mistress’ marks upon my shoulders, ( I.Ⅱ.83) While Dromio of Syracuse was given an education and treated like a brother as opposed to a servant, Antipholus of Syracuse demonstrates: A trusty villain, sir, that very oft, When I am dull with care and melancholy, Lightens my humor with is merry jests. (I.II.19)
If they had had wealthy parents with much more power then they would never have become servants and would most likely have servants of their own.
Another and perhaps more common way to define a person’s social status is by their wealth, that is their money and possesions. Even though in our modern society wealth has little to do with your social status, in William Shakespeare’s time the more money you had the more power you had. For example Adriana and her...