By the year of Marlowe’s death, we have seen, Shakespeare had written not only some four plays on English history but probably his first three comedies. It is not certain in what order they were written, but there is fair agreement that The Comedy of Errors came first ; it would seem to me that The Two Gentlemen of Verona came next, which is very close in character and texture, and The Taming of the Shrew third, on ground of its maturer characterisation, force and imaginative realism. Other playwrights had shown diversity in their output, particularly Peele, who had produced pastoral, a topical play, a Biblical tragedy, a history play and, in The Old Wives Tale, a mixture of fairy enchantments with some literary satire. But in Shakespeare thus early we see a deeper, more significant, duality, which reflects the ambivalence, the two-sidedness, of his nature.
KeywordsEnglish History High Society History Play Topical Play Mature Characterisation
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