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Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

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Comedy of Errors

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  1. Comedy of Errors early Shakespearian comedy

  2. Comedy of Errors • probably written ~ 1591 – first or second of Shakespeare’s comedies. • written after some of the histories. • written for both the public stage in London and for private Christmas celebrations for barristers at inns of court. • shortest of Shakespeare’s plays. • no surviving quarto editions.

  3. Who’s Who • 2 sets of identical twins born on same day • Antipholus – sons of merchants • Dromio – purchased servants • Egeon – father of Antipholus twins • Duke of Ephesus (runs the town) • 2 sisters • Adriana (wife of Ephesus brother) • Luciana (whom Syracuse brother falls for) • Amelia – abbess of Ephesus

  4. Some minor characters • Courtesan (mistress of Antipholus of Ephesus) – in this play, the wife, not the concubine, has a name • Balthazar & 2 more merchants • Dr. Pinch – who declares Antipholus to be a madman • Angelo – goldsmith • Luce / Nell – round wife of Dromio Ephesus

  5. Ideas to look for • Water imagery (separated by the sea; alike as two drops of water). • What brings couples together. • Sense of individual identity missing in Plautus’s play – brothers are different people and want different things. • Witchcraft and sorcery – fear of what one does not understand.

  6. Contrasts with Plautus’ play • Double twinning • Setting changed to Ephesus in response to St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (which talks about Christian marriage, and clearly Antipholus Ephesus and Adriana need to work on their marriage) • Addition of parents • Element of real danger in Egeon’s threatened death