chapter  5
33 Pages

Shakespeare's early comedies

Traditional scholarship divides Shakespeare’s comedies into chronological groupings. There are first of all, according to this scheme, the early comedies: The Comedy of Errors, The Two Gentle­ men of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew and Love's Labour's Lost These are often viewed as Shakespeare’s immature work: while they contain the blueprints of his future greatness, they are none­ theless technically less well-constructed than his best plays, remaining too close to his original source material, and lacking the complexity of characterization and breadth of scope to be found in his later work. They were written in the years between Shakespeare’s arrival in London (c. 1585) and his joining the Lord Chamberlain’s Men as a sharer in 1594. During this period Shakespeare was still making a living as a freelance actor and developing into a significant playwright. These early plays were staged by various companies and at various theatres; however, since the public theatres were effectively closed down between 1592 and 1594 by the threat of plague, most of the plays were probably written and first performed during the period 1588-92. One exception to this may be Love's Labour's Lost, which may not originally have been written for the public theatre.