The Comedy of Errors

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The Comedy of Errors is a play by William Shakespeare and one of his earlier comedies (and one of his shortest), from 1589. It involves ridiculous coincidences, when two twin brothers and their twin servants are mistaken for each other.


The play opens with an elderly merchant from Syracuse, Aegeon, being condemned by the Duke of Ephesus, because of the rivalries between the two cities. Before he is executed, the Duke asks Aegeon to explain why he came to Ephesus. Aegeon tells how he had been a merchant with a wife called Aemilia. On one trip, his wife became pregnant and delivered identical twin sons. Coincidentally, in the same inn, a poor woman had two identical twins. Since she was so poor, Aegeon bought them as slaves for his sons. On the trip home, a great storm split their ship in half. On one side was Aegeon, one son and his slave and on the other side Adriana, one son and his slave. They were both saved by different seafarers. After many years, Aegeon's son, Antipholus of Syracuse, eventually went searching for them and became lost to Aegeon. Aegeon tried to find his son and ended up by mishap in Ephesus. The Duke of Ephesus naturally pities Aegeon's sad tale and gives him one day to pay a thousand marks to ransom his life.

That very day, Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio, arrive in Ephesus. The errors begin immediately. Dromio of Ephesus tries to bring Antipholus of Syracuse to dinner, making Antipholus think his servant is joking around. This often ends in both Dromios being beaten. Antipholus of Syracuse ends up dining with his brother’s wife, Adriana and her sister, Luciana. To complicate matters, Antipholus of Syracuse falls in love with Luciana, while Antipholus of Ephesus is kept outside of his own home and has to dine elsewhere. The matter is also complicated when a Jeweler named Angelo tries to give Antipholus a golden chain before having him pay for it. Eventually, Adriana and Luciana are convinced that her husband and his servant must be mad and have them bound. Eventually, Antipholus of Syracuse are chased into an Abbey, where the Abbess decides to offer them sanctuary.

At the end of the day, the Duke comes with Aegeon and hears everybody’s varied accounts of the day. He is perplexed and the confusion is added to when Aegeon mistakes Antipholus of Ephesus for the son he raised. However the matters are instantaneously cleared when the Abbess brings out the twin brothers. The play ends with the characters untangling the day’s confusion. The Abbess it turns out is Aegeon's wife Aemilia and they soon identify their sons. They have a feast of celebration.

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