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The Comedy of Errors

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
The Comedy of Errors relies heavily on mix-ups and witty dialogue. The characters include two sets of twins, Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse. Dromio of Ephesus is the slave of Antipholus of Ephesus, and Dromio of Syracuse is the slave of Antipholus of Syracuse.

Antipholus of Ephesus is unaware that he has a twin brother, Antipholus of Syracuse. And Dromio of Ephesus is unaware that he also has a twin brother, Dromio of Syracuse. Farcical mix-ups occur when all the twins converge in Ephesus.

Information provided about the Comedy of Errors play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that 1594 December 28 was the first confirmed performance of Errors. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and The Comedy of Errors would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that The Comedy of Errors was first printed in 1623 as part of the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The setting for The Comedy
The setting for The Comedy of Errors is Ephesus, in present-day Turkey, which was a leading trade centre in ancient times.

Theme of The Comedy of Errors
The play is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in The Comedy of Errors
The number of words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 16,258 (the shortest of the plays by Shakespeare) 

Most important characters in The Comedy of Errors
The most important characters are:
Antipholus and Dromio x 2!

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The quotes from The Comedy of Errors are amongst Shakespeare's most famous and include 'time comes stealing'. Details of this famous quote, and others, follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"For slander lives upon succession,
For ever housed where it gets possession".
(Act III, Scene I) 

"It is thyself, mine own self's better part; 
Mine eye's clear eye, my dear heart's dearer heart; 
My food, my fortune, and my sweet hope's aim; 
My sole earth's heaven, and my heaven's claim."
(Act III, Scene II) 

"Time is a very bankrupt, and owes more than he's worth to season. 
Nay, he's a thief, too: have you not heard men say, 
That time comes stealing on by night and day?"
(Act IV, Scene II)

Shakespeare makes mention of America in the Comedy of Errors, Antipholus of Syracuse asks, "Where America, the Indies?" (Act III, Scene II)

William Shakespeare's Main Source for The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare found the story in Menaechmi by Plautus.

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Text - script of The Comedy of Errors play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in The Comedy of Errors play by William Shakespeare
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