Monday, May 24, 2010

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Characters:

Syracuse, Ephesus : Two states at variance.

Epidamnum : Another place

Aegeon : Merchant of Syracuse found wandering in Ephesus

Corinth : another place

Antipholus : twin sons of Aegeon

Dromio : twin sons of the slave

duke Menaphor : uncle of duke of Ephesus

Adriana : wife of elder Antipholus

Luciana : sister of Adriana

Two states of Syracuse and Ephesus are at variance. There is a law in Ephesus that if any merchant of Syracuse is found in their state he was to be put to death or pay a thousand marks to save his life. Aegeon , an old merchant of Syracuse is found in Ephesus and brought before the duke for death sentence as Aegeon has no money to pay the fine of 1000 marks. The duke asked him to tell his story why he came to Ephesus even daring death if found.

Aegeon said that he is born in Syracuse and a merchant. H e is married to a very good lady. On the purpose of business, he went to Epidamnum for six months and as his stay is to be extended he called his wife to him. She gave birth to two identical twins both of whom are named Antipholus. Their slave lady also gave birth to two identical twins named Dromio. It is impossible to distinguish between the twins. As his wife asked to return to their native place, Aegeon has boarded the ship with his twin sons and twin sons of the slave to become slaves to his sons.

Suddenly, a dreadful storm broke. Aegeon has tied his younger son and the younger slave to the wooden mast and tied himself to the same. Before that, he tied his wife, elder twin and the elder slave to another wooden mast. The ship broke into two and both Aegeon and his wife are separated. He has seen that fishermen of Corinth have saved his wife and children . He himself also is saved by another ship and brought to Syracuse.

After eighteen years, his youngest son (Antipholus of Syracuse) with the permission of his father, accompanied by his slave went to other places in search of his mother and his identical twin but has not returned even after seven years. Hence Aegeon himself is touring in search of his both sons, wife and the attendants. In search of them only he entered Ephesus as he no longer cares for his life. Thus Aegeon told his story to the duke. The duke said he pities him but the law cannot be changed but if anyone pays the fine of 1000 marks today he will be set free.

Aegeon does not know that both his sons and the twin attendants are in Ephesus at the same time. His younger son Antipholus of Syracuse with his attendant Dromio entered Ephesus in search of his brother. As one of his friends informed him that any one from Syracuse will be put to death he disguised as a business man from Epidamnum. The eldest son (Antipolous of Ephesus) has lived for twenty years in Ephesus and became rich. The fishermen who saved him has sold him and his attendant to Duke of Menaphon who is the uncle of duke of Ephesus. Thus Aegeon, his two identical twin sons and the two identical attendants are in Ephesus at the same time to raise to comedy of errors.

The duke of Ephesus likes Antipholus and made him an officer in his army and once he saved the life of duke. Satisfied with this, the Duke married Antipholus to a rich lady Adriana.

The younger son (Antipholus of Syracuse) gave some money to Dromio and sent him to inn for arranging for the dinner. While he is thinking about how to find his brother, Dromio (as he thought) returned and asked him to come to the house for dinner as his mistress is waiting. What mistress asked Antipholus, Dromio replied your mistress, sir. Now, Antipholus having lost all patience beat Dromio as he does not know that he is not his attendant but of his elder brother. Dromio went to Adriana and reported the same and went out. Adriana went to the inn with anger and made the younger Antipholus and his attendant Dromio to come to the house and have dinner. During dinner, he is surprised to know that she is his wife and she has not agreed for his protests as the twins look alike. In the kitchen, Dromio also is surprised that the helper there called him as her husband.

When they are taking dinner behind the closed doors, the actual Antipholus and Dromio came home for dinner but the servants sent them away without even opening the door as Adriana instructed them not to disturb her as she is having dinner with her husband. After dinner, by some pretext Antipholus of Syracuse came out of the house and a goldsmith met him and gave a gold chain thinking him to be the Antipholus of Ephesus even without taking money. As the gold smith owes some money to another man and he has reported to an officer for the recovery, the officer arrested the goldsmith and asked for the money. Meanwhile, the original Antipholus came that way. The gold smith asked him to give the money for the gold chain but Antipholus of Ephesus informed that he has not taken any chain. Hence the officer has arrested the goldsmith and Antipholus of Ephesus also on the complaint of goldsmith. At that time, Dromio of Syracuse , his brother's slave has come there. He has asked Dromio to go home and get the money asking his wife thinking that he is his slave. Adriana gave money and sent Dromio.

Antipholus of Syracuse is walking in the streets. As Antipholus of Ephesus is well known in the city, everyone saluted his younger brother, some offered to return the money he gave to them, the tailor has shown the silks he has ordered and asked for the measurements to stitch, some invited him to come and see, some thanked him for the kindness he shown to him thinking him for his brother. His attendant Dromio came and asked him how the officer has released him and shown the money he brought from Adriana.

Another strange lady has come to him and asked him for the gold chain he has promised at dinner the other day. Younger Antipholus said that he has never seen her. She too mistook this man to be the married Antipholus. When he denied having seen her, she went to Adriana and told her that her husband has become lunatic. At that time, the husband of Adriana came with the jailor, given the money to him and became freed. When he and Dromio said that the money is not given to them , Adriana believed that her husband became mad and with the help of others confined him to a room and locked it.

After some time a servant came and told her that they escaped and are seen on the street near a convent. Adriana went there to fetch her husband. Seeing her, Antipholus of Syracuse ran into the convent and asked for protection of the abbess of the convent. Adriana has asked the abbess of the convent to handover her husband to her, who is lunatic and escaped the confinement. The lady abbess has refused to handover him.

Meanwhile, time has come for the death sentence of Aegeone. As the place is nearer to the convent, Aegeone is brought nearer to the convent and the Duke also came to oversee. Meanwhile, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus came there escaping the confinement Adriana has put them in. Antipholus of Syracuse came out of the convent with his attendant. The duke of Ephesus, Adriana, Aegeone and all others are surprised to see both the twins. Then the duke recognized them to be the sons of Aegeone who told his story in the morning and all are united. Another surprise is that abbess of the convent is none other than the wife of Aegeone and the mother of Antipholus.

Antipholus of Ephesus offered to pay the fine of 1000 marks for the release of his father. But, the Duke has said that he is waiving the fine. Thus the comedy of errors ended on a very happy note.

No comments:

Post a Comment