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Jonathan A. Gros
February 28, 2001
The comedy of errors is a comedy written by William Shakespeare. Shakespeare, instead of a Comedy of Errors-?The Dromios?
single set of identical twins, Shakespeare added another set to serve as servants to the lost twins, thus complicating the plot with more mistaken identities. The characters are all dead serious about their confusion. This play is about the twin Dromios, and the twin Antipholus?. This play is about their mistaken identities in the play, and how much trouble they go through only finding out it wasn?t the right person. They undergo a test of identity, by having two identities, only they discover they really have none at all. (Magill 1039)
The Dromios, were separated from each other in infancy, each with a similary separated master. In the play, they share with their masters the confusions and errors that mistaked identities lead to. All characters have been drawn into a madly developed chase through the streets of Ephesus; until the denouement, when the twins finally meet. The confusions of identity with the two Dromios a sense especially of loss or transformation, and for Antipholus? of Ephesus a need defiantly to assert his identity in a world that seems to go mad, thus lead to a breakdown of the social order through the frustration of normal relationships. The normal relationship of master and servant is broken as each Antipholus meets the other?s Dromio, and then beats his own servant for failin to carry out orders given to someone else. (Bender 83)
The Dromios, with their incessant drubbings, are often the center of interest in performance, and rightly so. The serious force of the presentation of the Antipholus twins is paralled by a more comic treatment of their servant. Dromio of Ephesus suffers like an ass from the blows of his master, and finding that another has assumed his officae and identity as servant in Adriana?s household. Dromio applies the term ?ass? in relation to the beatings he is made to suffer, and to the way he is made to seem a fool. He is rewarded with still more blows as his master grows angrier. (Bender 80 98)
Dromio of Syracuse shares something of his master?s sense of being subjected to Witchcraft. His sense of change or loss of identity is confirmed when the kitchen maid Nell, treats him as her man, and he bursts out, ?I am an ass, I am a woman?s man, and besides myself.? (Bender 82)
As comic buffoons, the Dromios receive numerous beatings as their masters affairs become increasingly disordered, and respond with quips and quibbles. This goes back to where they are tested with their identity, but realize they have none at all. (Boyce 161)
The confusions of identity win the two Dromios a sense especially of loss or transformation, and for Antipholus of ephesus a need defiantly to asset his identity in a world that seems to go mad, thus lead to a breakdown of the social order through the frustration of normal relationships. The undergo a loss of identity; or to put it in another way, by having two identities, they discover they really have none at all.
This comedy is really confusing. It has farcical comedy, and it has fantasy, but it does more than merely provoke laughter, or release us temporarily from inhibitions and custom into a world free as a child?s. It also invites compassion, a measure of sympathy, and a deeper response to the disruption of social and family relationships which the action brings out.
Magill, Frank N. ed. Cyclopedia of Literary Characters. New York: Harper and row, 1963
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