Patterns and themes in Shakespeare's early comedies
The Dissertation is a two-part study of Shakespeare's Patterns and Themes in the Early Comedies. The First Part is concerned with the diversity of intellectual construction revealed by the plays seriatim. Chapter 1 focuses on the Quest Pattern in The Comedy of Errors, and its function in clarifying the play's thematic complications. Chapter 2 takes a close look at the Pattern of Classical Allusions in The Taming Of the Shrew. Chapter 3 examines four integrating structural elements in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which contribute both individually and collectively to the total meaning of the play. Chapter 4 explores the Morality Pattern implanted in Love's Labour's Lost, behind the barrier of artifice which separates Navarre from the outside world. The Second Part centres on the plays' versatile thematic preoccupation. Chapter 5 discusses the Debate about Marriage in The Comedy of Errors, a play written at a time when the controversy over women and their position in marriage particularly, had reached its apogee. Chapter 6 examines The Taming of the Shrew as an academic drama set in Renaissance Italy, in which an experience of Education is provided for the benefit of its characters and audience alike. Chapter 7 analyses the literary theme of Alienation in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and shows how it is ultimately resolved in a state of social communion at the end of the play. Chapter 8 deals with the Religious Dimension in Love's Labour's Lost--the Christian view which emerges from the play and which is based on the teaching and imagery of Holy Scripture. The plays become more interesting when the link between their respective patterns and themes is probed. The associations of home enhanced by the journeys of the Errors bear a strong relationship to the male/female attitudes to domesticity and household stability. Similarly, the Shrew's wonders, achieved against all odds by Petruchio, are doubly stressed by the process of education. The pattern of reconciliations in The Two Gentlemen complements its theme by conquering the alienations. Likewise, the Morality element in Love's Labour's Lost overlaps the play's Christian connotations.