Overview:
Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" is about a set of twins, both named Antipholus (one from Ephesus and the other from Syracuse), and their twin servants, both named Dromio. When both Antipholuses or both Dromios end up in the same place or the wrong Antipholus or Dromio confuses acquaintences of the other, the titular errors bring about comedic situations.

Synopsis:
The play opens with Aegeon relating the story of his life to Solinus, the Duke of Ephesus prior to his execution for entering Ephesus without paying the fine. Long ago, Aegeon had a wife, Aemelia, and that wife bore him twin sons, Aegeon purchased twin slaves to serve them. Later, when the family needed to make a sea voyage Aegeon, one son, and that son's slave were separated from Aegeon's wife, his other son, and that son's slave. Aegon, Antipholus, and Dromio end up in Syracuse (in Sicily) while Aemelia, Antipholus, and Dromio end up in Ephesus (in Asia Minor). It's not impossible to see how errors could be made here. Twins both named Antipholus, each with identical slaves named Dromio!

After 18 years, Antipholus decides to take Dromio and look for his brother, Antipholus. When Antipholus does not return, Aegeon sets out to look for him (thus explaining Aegeon's presence in Ephesus in Act 1, Scene 1). Taking pity on Aegeon, The Duke gives him a few days to come up with the money to avoid execution.

Unbeknownst to Aegeon, Antipholus is also in Ephesus. He commands Dromio to deposit some money at the Centaur and is very surprised when Dromio reappears with no knowledge of the event asking him to come home to dinner. Antipholus is surprised to hear about a wife, and he doesn't take any of this as hint despite the fact that he is searching for his twin brother, who he knows to have a slave named Dromio, identical to his own slave named Dromio.

Dromio returns home and informs Adriana (Antipholus's wife) that he claims not to know her. This confirms her suspicions that her husband is a cheater.

Antipholus continues on his way to check on Dromio. When he arrives, Dromio denies making any jokes about Antipholus's "wife." Adriana comes upon them and begs Antipholus not to leave her. The locals decide that there is witchcraft at work, and Antipholus, not being one to turn down a free meal from a beautiful woman, returns with Adriana to her home. Antipholus returns home and finds that he is locked out. Instead of breaking down the door, Antipholus decides to eat dinner with a courtesan.

Inside Antipholus's home, Antipholus discovers that he is attracted to his wife's sister, Luciana, and Dromio discovers that he has a wife here as well, Nell. She is very large, and he jokes about being able to find countries in her buttocks. Antipholus and Dromio make their way out, but not before the goldsmith, Angelo, forces a chain that Antipholus ordered from him.

After dinner, Antipholus sends Dromio to beat his wife, Nell, for locking them out of the house. Antipholus is then approached by Angelo, who wants his money. Antipholus denies taking the chain, and is then arrested. Antipholus sends Dromio out again, this time to fetch bail money. Dromio procures to money, and delivers it to Antipholus. Nell sees Antipholus wearing Angelo's chain, and says that he had promised it to her. Antipholus and Dromio deny this, and Nell threatens to tell Adriana that her husband has gone crazy.

Dromio returns to Antipholus with the rope, and Antipholus is furious because he thinks Dromio has spent all of his bail money on rope. Adriana, Luciana, Nell, and a Conjurer enter and accuse Antipholus and Dromio of being insane because their story of the day's events does not match hers. The Conjurer tries to exorcise their madness as a cure. They are then bound and returned to Adriana's home.

Antipholus and Dromio enter, each carrying a sword. The townspeople mistake them for Antipholus and Dromio, who they think to be insane. After being accosted by Angelo and Adriana, Antipholus and Dromio take refuge in a nearby priory. The Abbess takes them in and refuses to hand them over to anyone.

The Duke and Aegeon enter, on their way to Aegeon's execution. Adriana begs the Duke to release Antipholus. One of Adriana's servants arrives and informs her that Antipholus and Dromio have escaped and tortured Dr. Pinch. Antipholus and Dromio enter and ask the Duke for justice against Adriana, who locked them out of their own home, arranged for Angelo to have them arrested, and hired Dr. Pinch to "cure" their madness. The Duke, seeing that no two versions of this tale are the same, asks the Abbess what happened.

Aegeon asks Antipholus if he recognizes his own father. Antipholus doesn't, and the Abbess enters with Antipholus and Dromio. She explains that not only have the two sets of twins been reunited, but that Aegeon has found his wife! After the shipwreck, some fishermen stole Anthipholus and Dromio from her, and she became a votaress of the local cloister.

Aegeon is pardoned by the Duke, and everybody goes into the church to iron out the day's events.

Fin.

 


"The Comedy of Errors"
By William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

Act 1
Scene 1 - A hall in the DUKE'S palace.
Scene 2 - A public place.

Act 2
Scene 1 - A public place.
Scene 2 - The same public place.

Act 3
Scene 1 - The same public place.
Scene 2 - The same public place.

Act 4
Scene 1 - The same public place.
Scene 2 - The same public place.
Scene 3 - The same public place.
Scene 4 - The same public place.

Act 5
Scene 1 - The same public place.

 

Works referenced:

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