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inexhaustible epithets, of the Sergeant of the Counter, in Act IV. sc. ii. In fact, the chief farcical incidents of the play are engineered by Dromio of Syracuse. His twin-brother of Ephesus is much more grave and discreet, formal and precise, as befits a well-mannered servant who has passed his life in town. See Act I. sc. ii.; Act II. sc. i.; Act IV. sc. iv. That he is consequently looked on by his twin of Syracuse as the "elder" appears from v. i. 421-23.
Dro. S. Not I, Sir; you are my elder.
We 'll draw cuts for the senior; till then lead thou first.
However trifling the point, it may be interesting to note, in view of Shakespeare's debt to Lyly, that the name Dromio appears in Lyly's Mother Bombie as that of a servant to Memphis; and in all likelihood this is the source of Shakespeare's name for his "attendants on the two Antipholuses.'
Adriana is drawn with considerable individuality, and gives us the impression of a loving and dutiful though jealous, impatient and quick-tempered wife, who is something of a shrew withal. Whether, as is sometimes imagined, her character is drawn wholly or in part from that of Shakespeare's own wife may be left to the conjecture of the reader. But in all respects the character is an enormous advance on that of the "Mulier" of Plautus.
Luciana is a slighter sketch, but seemingly Shakespeare intended her character to be more balanced than that of Adriana, and he seems to endow her with more commonsense and worldly prudence than her sister. When Antipholus of Syracuse makes love to her she is prudent enough, before she gives way to any feeling, to "fetch her sister to get her good-will" (III. ii. 70); and in the opening of this second
scene she appears to us as a rather philosophic and worldly young person" in her conversation with Antipholus as to his relations with his supposed wife.
The influence of Lyly on Shakespeare's early comedies has already been referred to. The "Romantic Comedy," as it is sometimes styled, of Shakespeare is the result in some measure of the movement initiated by Lyly in his comedies, which display in their euphuistic dialogue that peculiar form of "wit" to which action is completely subordinated, and which he had brought into fashion at Court. A fair example of this "wit" is quoted by Mr. W. J. Courthope, in his History of English Poetry, vol. iv., p. 72, from Lyly's Mydas, in the scene between Pipenetta, Licio and Petulus (Fairholt, vol. ii., pp. 13-15). But Lyly's first object, as Courthope also points out, was to make the action of his dramas unreal. His heroes and heroines, invariably taken from classical mythology, were "removed from all touch with ordinary humanity." His plots were of the most improbable structure. He invested his actions with a kind of fairy atmosphere; and worked out his dénouements, after the classical fashion, by means of divine agencies.
The motive of cross-purposes, confusion and mystification pervades all the early comedies of Shakespeare. But while in Love's Labour's Lost these are brought about by natural stupidity or deliberate artifice, and in the Two Gentlemen of Verona by the agency of love, in The Errors it is reached simply by the freaks of nature in the production of two sets of twin brothers. Shakespeare had learnt from Lyly to produce that unreal and improbable atmosphere which is the great charm of his early comedies, and he improved upon
the teaching. Lyly had probably derived it from the study of Plautus himself. A good example is found in the Amphitryon, I. i. 299, where Sosia says:
Di immortales, obsecro vestram fidem
Perhaps the most strikingly imaginative comic effect in The Errors is the state of mind produced in the wandering Antipholus and his attendant by the treatment they receive from the inhabitants of Ephesus. The result is that master ́and servant each doubts his own identity.
Ant. S. Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking? mad or well-advised?
Known unto these and to myself disguised! (11. ii. 212-14)
Dro. S. Do you know me, Sir? am I Dromio? am I your man ? am I myself? (111. ii. 74.)
But the "more spiritual form of illusion" found in The Errors is entirely medieval, and was obtained by Shakespeare from the examples furnished to him in Lyly's Endimion, in which the action is affected by the agency of fairies, witches and enchanted objects. "From Lyly, too," says Courthope, "Shakespeare took the idea of the underplot, in which some well-marked character, not absolutely necessary to the evolution of the main plot, is brought on the stage to amuse the audience with his oddities and witty abuse of language." In The Errors this part, as we have seen, is filled by Dromio of Syracuse; and an excellent example is found in the witty passage between him and his master in Act II. sc. ii. 49-108 :
The scene, no less than the general atmosphere, of the play is idealised for dramatic purposes, but is in fact Shakespeare's London. The play holds the mirror up to contemporary life in London as Shakespeare knew it. "Beneath the masquerade of foreign names in the comedies lay tacitly the familiar scenes of England and of London," as Ordish well remarks in the preface (p. 8) to his interesting little volume, Shakespeare's London (1904). English scenes and allusions to English contemporary life in ostensibly foreign situations were merely part of the stage conventions of the time. This is evident from the most casual reading of the play. The introductory story of old Ægeon's wreck at sea would forcibly appeal to an audience familiar with the port of London and the extensive traffic between it and foreign countries. Moreover, the "enmity and discord" referred to by the Duke of Ephesus (I. i. 5) as existing between that city and Syracuse, may well represent a conventional reflection of the intermittent state of enmity long existing in Elizabeth's reign between England and Spain. For instance, in January, 1564, in retaliation for the depredations of the English privateers, Philip of Spain had ordered the arrest of English ships in Spanish harbours, together with their crews and owners. Thirty large vessels were seized, a thousand English sailors and merchants were imprisoned, and English traders were excluded from the ports of the Low Countries. (See Froude, History of England, vol. viii., p. 456.) Further, in 1 568, Elizabeth connived at the seizure of Spanish treasure ships on their way to Alva for the payment of the Spanish troops in
the Netherlands. Commercial relations were broken off between England and the latter country, and all English ships and traders in the ports of Spain and Flanders were arrested. "The breach with Spain and interruption of the Netherlands trade led to the transference of the merchant adventurers' factory from Antwerp to Hamburg, where the trade was carried on successfully for some ten years till the Hansards drove them out. Elizabeth retaliated in 1578 by abrogating all the special privileges which the men of the Hanse enjoyed in England, and placing them on the same footing as other aliens." (See Dr. Wm. Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Commerce (1892), vol. ii., p. 24.)
Many scenes and expressions of topical interest occur in The Errors. In the second scene of Act I. Shakespeare perhaps had in mind Sir Thomas Gresham's Royal Exchange when he makes Antipholus of Syracuse at his arrival "view the manners of the town, peruse the traders and gaze upon the buildings" (I. ii. 12). Dromio of Ephesus was charged to bring his master from the mart (II. i. 5-II. ii. 6) home to dinner at his house the Phoenix (I. ii. 75, 88; II. ii. II); the houses of merchants, who then dwelt "over the shop," being of course distinguished by signs. "The Centaur" is the inn of Antipholus of Syracuse (I. ii. 9); "The Tiger" is the inn where Antipholus of Ephesus and his friend dine (III. i. 95). We also find "the Porpentine" (III. i. 116, ii. 170; IV. i. 49 and V. i. 222); and also many references to purely English matters, e.g., Dromio's sixpence to pay the saddler (I. ii. 55); his master's fault scored on his pate (1. ii. 65); the reference to English fairy lore (II. ii. 191 sqq.); purely English names of servants (III. i. 31); the English stocks (III. i. 60); the fat