Doubles Analysis of the Comedy of Errors

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Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors
In our individualistic culture, when asked to identify ourselves or a person, we tend you use various conditions or characteristics of our personality to explain who we are as an individual. In collectivist cultures, when asked to identify themselves or a person, primarily their family background is used. Personal characteristics are secondary in creating one’s sense of self. William Shakespeare’s play A Comedy of Errors suggests that a person’s identity isn’t only a collection of characteristics of their personality, but also, as well as ultimately established by a sense of family. Shakespeare uses the doubles devices; the twin double and the alter ego, to help show the importance of a ‘whole’ family in establishing and revealing a person’s identity. At the beginning of the play A Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare introduces the twin device to show how characteristics are not enough to establish identity. Antipholus of Syracuse has been wandering around from country to country looking for his exact twin also named Antipholus. Their father, Egeon describes them as “…one so like the other/ As could not be distinguished but by names” (I.i.51-52). The Antipholus twins shared the same characteristics. Not only did they look alike and bare the same name, they also shared the same social status as well as character. Characters used to describe the identity of an individual. This causes great confusion throughout the play. Neither Antipholus pretends to be someone who he is not. We, as readers are amazed at the likeness of the two characters, even through the dramatic irony which we know there are two of the men; we are also only able to tell them apart through their family relations. Antipholus of Syracuse is not married while Antipholus of Ephesus has a wife and house hold to attend to. Shakespeare also uses the doubles device in the form of an alter ego to further show that a person’s identity is not only how someone thinks of themselves...
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