The Comedy of Errors

10/06/1594View on timeline

The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's early plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors (along with The Tempest) is one of only two of Shakespeare's plays to observe the Unity of Time (classical unities). It has been adapted for opera, stage, screen and musical theatre numerous times worldwide. In the centuries following its premiere, the play's title has entered the popular English lexicon as an idiom for "an event or series of events made ridiculous by the number of errors that were made throughout".

The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins who were accidentally separated at birth. (Shakespeare was father to one pair of twins.) Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.

Poster for an 1879 production on Broadway, featuring Stuart Robson and William Crane

Text and date

The play is a modernised adaptation of Menaechmi by Plautus. As William Warner's translation of the classical drama was entered into the Register of the Stationers Company on 10 June 1594, published in 1595, and dedicated to Lord Hunsdon, the patron of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, it has been supposed that Shakespeare might have seen the translation in manuscript before it was printed – though it is equally possible that he knew the play in the original Latin, as Plautus was part of the curriculum of grammar school students.

The play contains a topical reference to the wars of succession in France, which would fit any date from 1589 to 1595. Charles Whitworth argues that The Comedy of Errors was written "in the latter part of 1594" on the basis of historical records and textual similarities with other plays Shakespeare wrote around this time. The play was not published until it appeared in the First Folio in 1623.

The first page of the play, printed in the First Folio of 1623

0 comments

Comment

No comments avaliable.

Author

Info

Published in 14/09/2018

Updated in 19/02/2021

All events in the topic Plays and work - Comedies:


Invalid DateAll's Well That Ends WellAll's Well That Ends Well
Invalid DateAs You Like ItAs You Like It
Invalid DateThe Comedy of ErrorsThe Comedy of Errors
Invalid DateCymbelineCymbeline
Invalid DateLove's Labour's LostLove's Labour's Lost
Invalid DateMeasure for MeasureMeasure for Measure
Invalid DateThe Merchant of VeniceThe Merchant of Venice
Invalid DateThe Merry Wives of WindsorThe Merry Wives of Windsor
Invalid DateA Midsummer Night's DreamA Midsummer Night's Dream
Invalid DateMuch Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing
Invalid DatePericles, Prince of TyrePericles, Prince of Tyre
Invalid DateThe Taming of the ShrewThe Taming of the Shrew
Invalid DateThe TempestThe Tempest
Invalid DateTwelfth NightTwelfth Night
Invalid DateThe Two Gentlemen of VeronaThe Two Gentlemen of Verona
Invalid DateThe Two Noble KinsmenThe Two Noble Kinsmen
Invalid DateThe Winter's TaleThe Winter's Tale