When reading about Commedia dell'art archtypes and stock characters, I was stuck by the similarity of original Italian theater to the Marx brother's films. There is always the inamorata, the young lovers. Groucho and Chico fill the roles of Pantaloon, the miserly, ridiculous old man, and Harlequin, the clever, jibberish-speaking servant who always manages to foil his master's plans, quite neatly. And Harpo? Of course! Pierrot comes from the story of Little Peter, who was found outside the gates of Heaven lying in the snow. God took and turned the snow on his body into clothes as white as his soul and sent him back to Earth, forbiding him to play with the other children, an impossible request for a little boy. Black marks appear on his clothes were the children touched him, and he is not allowed back into Heaven. Perhaps that is why in J M Barrie's play of Peter Pan no character ever actually comes into contact with Peter. Pierrot is child-like, naive, and viewed by the other characters as being slightly insane, slightly outside of reality. Of course, Harpo characters' often have Harlequin-like traits, but they are more or less a variation of the Pierrot character. Perhaps it is more than coincidence that when we first see Harpo he is dressed as Pierrot in A Night at the Opera.