The Comedy of Errors | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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The Comedy of Errors | Character Analysis

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Antipholus of Syracuse

Born to Egeon and Emilia in Epidamium, Antipholus is raised by his father in Syracuse after being separated from his mother and brother in a shipwreck. At age 18, he leaves home to seek out his twin brother and mother, accompanied by his servant Dromio of Syracuse. When Antipholus arrives in Ephesus, he is surprised to find everyone already seems to know him. He suspects witchcraft is involved and makes plans to leave the city as soon as possible. After many mishaps and moments of mistaken identity, he is finally reunited with his family.

Antipholus of Ephesus

After a shipwreck separated him from his father and brother, Antipholus of Ephesus was taken from his mother by Corinthian fishermen. As a boy he was brought to Ephesus, where he grew up, married, and became a wealthy merchant. Antipholus of Ephesus is much less lighthearted than his twin brother, and much quicker to resort to physical violence. He is feared by his servants and mistrusted by his wife Adriana. After spending a day with many mishaps and moments of mistaken identity, leading his fellow Ephesians to think he is crazy, Antipholus meets his long-lost family members.

Dromio of Syracuse

Dromio of Syracuse is one of a pair of twins sold as servants shortly after they were born. As a young adult, he is the manservant to Antipholus of Syracuse, whom he accompanies to Ephesus on a quest to find his long-lost brother. Like his twin, Dromio of Syracuse is full of quips and puns, even at seemingly inappropriate times.

Dromio of Ephesus

Dromio of Ephesus is the servant to Antipholus of Ephesus and his wife Adriana. He tries to follow orders but suffers much abuse at the hands of his employers. Like his twin brother, Dromio of Ephesus is a jokester, even though his master is hot-tempered and has little time for humor. Dromio frequently uses jokes and wordplay to make light of his predicament. This behavior increases once he begins receiving conflicting commands from the two Antipholus brothers.

Egeon

Egeon is the first major character to appear in The Comedy of Errors. His tale of sorrow in Act 1, Scene 1 provides most of the backstory necessary for understanding the plot. Although he has suffered much and expects to be executed shortly, Egeon remains dignified and asks only for a speedy death. After the first scene, Egeon is offstage for almost the entirety of the play; his sons and servants are unaware he is in Ephesus at all, let alone on death row. Egeon meets his sons entirely by coincidence as he is on his way to be executed.

Adriana

Adriana is the play's female lead, a long-suffering Ephesian lady who chafes at society's rules for married women. She suspects her husband, Antipholus of Ephesus, is having an affair with the courtesan, but Antipholus denies this. When Adriana meets her brother-in-law, Antipholus of Syracuse, she mistakes him for his twin brother. She reads his strange behavior as yet another sign of her failing marriage.

Emilia

Egeon mentions his wife at the very beginning of the play, but he has no idea what has happened to her and never tells the audience her name. Emilia herself appears only in the final scene of the play, where she reveals herself as Egeon's long-lost wife and the mother to the Antipholus twins. She is somewhat domineering and wastes no time in dispensing sharply worded marriage advice to Adriana.

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