The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors is probably the most complicated of all Shakespeare’s plays, involving two sets of identical twins with multiple identity confusions. It begins with a Syracuse merchant, Egeon, being led to his execution for defying the ban against travel between Syracuse and E

What Egeon doesn’t know is that the son he has raised, Antipholus, and his slave, Dromio, have also arrived in Ephesus and that the missing son lives in Ephesus and has become a prosperous man, involved in the civic life of the city. He is well-known as Antipholus of Ephesus. He also has a slave, called Dromio who is the identical twin brother of Dromio of Syracuse. They had been separated at birth.

Antipholus of Ephesus’s wife, Adriana, encounters Antipholus of Syracuse and mistakes him for her husband. She insists that he go home with her to dinner. He leaves his slave to guard the door, and when Antipholus of Ephesus comes home, Dromio of Syracuse refuses him entry to the house.

When Antipholus of Syracuse sees Adriana’s sister, Luciana, he falls in love with her. Believing him to be her brother-in-law, she is shocked by his flirtatious behaviour.

Another confusion occurs when Antipholus of Syracuse receives a gold chain bought by his brother. When Antipholus of Ephesus refuses to pay for the chain on the grounds that he hasn’t received it, he is arrested for debt. Adriana, not used to such behaviour from him, thinks that he has gone crazy and orders servants to tie him up and lock him in the basement. Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave are finding events in Ephasus unreal and decide to leave the city but are pursued by Adriana and the debt collector. They elude them and claim asylum in an abbey.

Adriana goes to the Duke and appeals to him to remove the man she believes to be her husband from the abbey and hand him over to her. Antipholus of Ephesus, her actual husband, has broken out of the cellar and demands that the Duke take action against his wife for what she has done to him. All the complications unravel when Emelia, the Abbess, brings the two sets of twins together. She turns out to be the long-lost wife of Egeus. The brothers are reconciled with each other and their parents; the couples are united and the two Dromios embrace.

 

Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, is condemned to death in Ephesus for violating the ban against travel between the two rival cities. As he is led to his execution, he tells the Ephesian Duke, Solinus, that he has come to Syracuse in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated from him 25 years ago in a shipwreck. The other twin, who grew up with Egeon, is also traveling the world in search of the missing half of their family. (The twins, we learn, are identical, and each has an identical twin slave named Dromio.) The Duke is so moved by this story that he grants Egeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life.

Meanwhile, unknown to Egeon, his son Antipholus of Syracuse (and Antipholus' slave Dromio) is also visiting Ephesus--where Antipholus' missing twin, known as Antipholus of Ephesus, is a prosperous citizen of the city. Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus' wife, mistakes Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband and drags him home for dinner, leaving Dromio of Syracuse to stand guard at the door and admit no one. Shortly thereafter, Antipholus of Ephesus (with his slave Dromio of Ephesus) returns home and is refused entry to his own house. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse has fallen in love with Luciana, Adriana's sister, who is appalled at the behavior of the man she thinks is her brother-in-law.

phesus. As he is taken to the gallows he tells Duke Solinus, the Ephesian ruler, that he has come in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were lost twenty-five years before in a shipwreck. The other twin is also searching for his mother and brother. The Duke feels sorry for Egeon and gives him a day’s stay of execution, to allow him to raise the ransom that would save his life.

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