Friday, March 25, 2011

The Comedy of Errors - Story Time

Solinus. Well, Syracusian, say in brief the cause
Why thou departed'st from thy native home
And for what cause thou camest to Ephesus.


The Comedy of Errors begins in an interesting way. Rather than dropping the audience right into the thick of the action, as it seems that Shakepeare usually does, instead Shakespeare gives us a little story time: Aegeon, who has been arrested for being an enemy alien in the wrong part of the Greek world, tells the whole story of his life. This, of course, violates the first rule of writing that my little sister mentioned to me the other day -  "show, don't tell," quoth the experts. However, Aegeon's tale would be kind of hard to stage - he travels, his wife gives birth to twins, they are SHIPWRECKED (exciting, exciting), and the twins and the husband and wife are SEPARATED never to meet again!!

This story lets us know a few different things about the play.
1. say in brief = a very long story
2. There are twins - they will inevitably meet. Don't put a gun on stage unless it will be shot.
3. One of the sons is looking for the other. This reveals to us the fact, after we meet him, that Antipholus of Syracuse is a little bit of a well-meaning idiot. He tells us he's looking for his twin -

I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop,
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.


 - but when he's addressed and recognized by people he doesn't know, he fails to put two and two together. Too bad he didn't listen to his father's story at the beginning of the play to remind him of what's going on!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I thought of that too. But it just makes it funnier, doesn't it?
    My text on The Comedy of Errors has now been posted. Welcome to