Lessons from Shakespeare

Some people spend the summer training for triathlons; at XYYZ we give our writers even more onerous tasks. XYYZ contributor Craig MacBride has spent his entire summer reading Shakespeare so you don’t have to. He has condensed each play into a single life lesson that guys can use. (And not just to impress women, either: these are real Shakespearean morals.) Craig says, “You can learn a lot about women from Shakespeare. He loved a lot and hated some, and he showed in his plays how to deal with every permutation of feminine sensibilities, from those of the shrew to those of the star-cross’d lover. It’s pretty good reading, too.”

In a continuing series, Craig will update you, once a month, with his lessons from the writer we all haven’t read enough of. First up: The Comedy of Errors, a play you still have one weekend to see, in the pleasant outdoor amphitheatre at High Park, until the end of the weekend.


Though you can look into The Comedy of Errors to see the theme of madness that goes on to inform several of Shakespeare’s best plays, this play looks at madness only for its comedic merits.

Antipholus and his servant Dromio were both separated from their twin brothers in infancy. They set out on a search for their long-lost siblings, and end up in the same town as their brothers. Of course, being identical twins, they are immediately mistaken for them.

This becomes funny, and silly, as people bring the wrong things to the wrong Antipholus, and the wrong Dromio is repeatedly beaten for unintended insubordination.

In the end, the two pairs of twins find each other, and the Antipholuses find their father, and their father finds his wife, who was split from him when the twins were split apart.

The Comedy is also about a man unknowingly testing his wife’s boundaries. Adriana, who takes home the wrong Antipholus, is an immensely strong character, and like most immensely strong women, she is, in the eyes of many men, weaker because of her strength.You can feel her pain when her sister rightfully tells her, “headstrong liberty is lash’d with woe.” Stubborn women are a boon, though, and Shakespeare knew this. It is Adriana’s headstrong liberty that ultimately leads to the truth behind the errors.

XY Lesson from Shakespeare: Don’t run away from strong women.

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