Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1374349
 


 



'Were it Not Against Our Laws': Oppression and Resistance in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors


Eric Heinze


Queen Mary University of London, School of Law

April 7, 2009

Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15/2009
Legal Studies, 2009

Abstract:     
The Comedy of Errors, always loved on the stage, has long been deemed less substantial than Shakespeare's 'mature' works. Its references to private and public law have certainly been noted: a trial, a breached contract, a stand-off between monarchical and parliamentary powers. Yet the play's legal elements are more than historical curios within an otherwise light-hearted venture. The play is pervasively structured by an array of socio-legal dualisms - master-servant, husband-wife, native-alien, parent-child, monarch-parliament, buyer-seller. All confront fraught transitions from pre-modern to early modern forms. Those fundamentally legal relationships fuel character and action, even where no conventionally legal norm or procedure is at issue. 'Errors' in the play serve constantly to highlight unstable and shifting relationships of dominance and submission. Law undergoes its own transition from feudal-aristocratic to commercial forms. Through a theatrical framing device, it thereby re-emerges to remind us that those dualisms, even in their new incarnations, will remain squarely within law's ambit.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: Comedy of Errors, law and literature, law and humanities, legal theory, legal philosophy, Shakespeare

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Date posted: April 8, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Heinze, Eric, 'Were it Not Against Our Laws': Oppression and Resistance in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors (April 7, 2009). Queen Mary School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15/2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1374349

Contact Information

Eric Heinze (Contact Author)
Queen Mary University of London, School of Law ( email )
London
United Kingdom
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