Comedy Of Errors Thesis

Dromio S.: Because it is a blessing that he bestows on beasts; and what he hath scanted men in hair he hath given them in whit.Antipholus S.: Why, but there’s many a man hath more hair than wit.

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Dromio S.: Not a man of those but he hath the wit to lose his hair.

Antipholus S.: Why, thou didst conclude hairy men plain dealers without wit. […] The one, to save the money he spends in trimming; the other, that at dinner they should not drop in his porridge.

In a Tortoiseshell: In this paper, Eric uses close-reading to analyze a seemingly throwaway exchange between two characters in Act II of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, revealing an unexpected equivalence between the physical feature of hair and the abstract concept of time.

By using his close-reading as a lens through which to read other mentions of hair and baldness across the play, Eric gives us an example of analysis that builds on itself, taking us from hair, to time, to the play’s central claims about agency.

Yet, simply removing beard hair (which more than other hair represents youth and virility) does not go far enough to correct their loss of time in the play, which was caused by the physical irrationalities that put them under this doctor’s care in the first place.

So, then, while Antipholus “preaches patience” to the doctor, a term invoking both the suffering he is enduring and the temporal aspect of wasting the doctor’s time, Dromio cuts the doctor’s hair to be like that of a fool.Ultimately father Time limits our hair (or symbolically our time) to the extent that it stops growing altogether.Therefore, not only does this passage ground this connection of the physical and time through hair, but it also plants a presupposition of what baldness may represent within the play—the extreme of time’s limitation.As they cannot regain their own time, like they cannot regain their own hair, the duo takes as much agency from time as they can in the form of removing hair artificially.Therefore, Shakespeare has used an extended joke, a seemingly uninteresting or irrelevant section of text, superficially about baldness, within the context of a complex play, in order to set up a symbol of hair that can be used to think about other major themes, such as time, rationality, and—in the end—agency.Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus have finally overcome the physical irrationalities of the play by escaping from the doctor and maids and by discovering the truth about the situation; however, they do not simply escape.First, they remove the beard from this doctor with fire, a fairly aggressive method.This artificial baldness, as opposed to the natural loss of hair that comes with old age, shows that Antipholus and Dromio go beyond taking the time of others, such as the bounded doctor or beaten maids.Further, they completely reject this abstract irrationality, time’s limitation.Antipholus refers to this quantification: “why is Time such a niggard of hair, being, as it is, so plentiful an excrement? Hair, and more so the loss of hair, represent a loss of time that explicitly cannot be regained.The description of hair as an “excrement” causes us to think about loss and waste while the question as a whole alludes to the limitations put upon us by time.


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