The Comedy of Errors

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This article is about Shakespeare's play. For other uses, see The Comedy of Errors (disambiguation).

The Comedy of Errors, one of William Shakespeare's plays is the slapstick farce of his youth. In it, the lost twin sons of the old merchant Egeon—both named Antipholus—find themselves in Ephesus, without either one even knowing of the other's existence. Meanwhile, Egeon has arrived in search of the son he thinks is still alive—and has been sentenced to death for the "crime" of being from Syracuse.

To add to the confusion, the two Antipholuses have twin servants, both named Dromio. As the four men unwittingly encounter each other, the play is crammed with wildly escalating misunderstandings before the truth emerges and Egeon is pardoned.

Shakespeare bases his story on Plautus’s Menaechmi, a play about identical twins who accidentally meet after a lifetime apart. He borrows from another Plautus play by having Adriana, the wife of one Antipholus, entertain the other. The spirited Adriana often gives speeches evoking strong emotions—as do other characters at times. Even here, Shakespeare suggests complexities beyond the farce.

The Comedy of Errors was performed in late 1594, and Shakespeare probably wrote it between 1592 and 1594. The play was published in the 1623 First Folio.[1]

Productions at the Folger

Early editions

First Folio

LUNA: First Folio: H1r - I2v
Hamnet: STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68

Second Folio

LUNA: Second Folio: H1r - I2v
Hamnet: STC 22274 Fo.2 no.07

Modern editions

Comedy of Errors Folger Edition.jpg

The Comedy of Errors can be read online with the Folger Digital Texts and purchased from Simon and Schuster.

Hamnet link to Folger Edition: PR2753 .M6 copy 2 v.04





In popular culture

Translations

The Folger owns at least 15 translations of The Comedy of Errors in various languages. Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.

Performance materials

Other media

Video

Discover how rhyme enhances understand of The Comedy of Errors' complicated plot.

Learn about the influence The Comedy of Errors has on modern comedy.

Notes

  1. Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1996 Folger Shakespeare Library.