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Feldman, A.B. (1955). Shakespeare's Early Errors. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 36:114-133.

(1955). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 36:114-133

Shakespeare's Early Errors

A. Bronson Feldman, Ph.D.

Veterem atque antiquam rem novam ad vos proferam


If we could understand the motives that impelled William Shakespeare to the writing of plays, what were the reasons for his giving a whole life of wealthy imagination to the theatre, we might come into possession of the main keys to the psychology of the stage itself, of plays, the players, and their public. In the hope of contributing toward this achievement I have undertaken an intensive analysis of a play by the paramount dramatist which most historians regard as one of the earliest—if not the very first—of his creative efforts in theatre: The Comedy of Errors. Because of the crude frivolity, the juvenile character of this drama, scholars have not paid it serious attention. The eyes of psycho-analysis turn the more readily to it precisely because of this juvenile character. We know how the childishness of an artist will betray the deepest secrets of his mind, the unconscious origin of the passions of his life. If it is true that the Errors stands the nearest of Shakespeare's works to his infancy, we may expect to discover in it the primary springs of his fantasy, the driving forces of all his dramatic work.

Analysis of the comedy is not an easy task, for Shakespeare bequeathed it to us in a palimpsest form. There is plenty of evidence that he revised this product of his youth several times, and it did not reach the press until he had been in his grave many years. We need not be dismayed by the rapid shifts in quality of its stagecraft and the abrupt variations of the style.

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