The comedy of errors summary outlines the plots of each act in this light-hearted Shakespearean comedy set in the ancient Greek cities of Syracuse and Ephesus. With slapstick humor and comical circumstances arising from coincidences and mistaken identities Shakespeare keeps his audience engrossed in a short but crisp play that unfolds within a day. In The comedy of errors we see no disguises or pretense but characters in their original appearances.
It is the theme of twins both named Antipholus of Syracuse and Ephesus along with their twin servants similarly named Dromio being mistaken for each other that brings out the comical element of the play which is full of puns and farce
Comedy of Errors Summary Act I
Solinus the Duke of Ephesus has condemned Egeon a Syracuse merchant to death for failing to pay a fine of 1000 marks being the penalty for Syracusans to enter Ephesus.
The Duke who asks the merchant how he came to be in such a predicament. Egeon explains how years ago he had set sail from Epidamnum with his wife the two twins and another set of twins born from a slave girl who Egeon had taken to be companion to his sons. Unfortunately they were shipwrecked by a storm where he was separated from his wife who had one son and one servant twin with her. Egeon was rescued along with the corresponding set of twins where he made his way back to Syracuse.
An Oxymoron is used in his speech lamenting “The pleasing punishment that women bear. ( act I, sc I, 48)) Referring to childbirth as a pleasant pain women are willing to bear
Antipholus his son now 18 had set out to look for his brother and mother but since he got no news from them he decided to follow thinking them to be in Ephesus. The Duke sympathizes with Egeon and agrees to give him a day to arrange the fine.
When Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio reach Ephesus he is warned of its laws. He instructs Dromio to return to the inn with his money and laments at the difficulty of not being able to find his brother. In a short soliloquy and using a simile of likening himself to a drop in the ocean he also attributes a metaphoric description to his brother as the other drop.
‘I to the world am like a drop of water that in the ocean seeks another drop!’ (act i, sc i 35-40)
It is here that Antipholus is victim of the first incident of mistaken identity when Dromio of Ephesus meets him stating that his wife solicits his presence as dinner is getting late. Antipholus is irritated at the way Dromio passes of the subject of his instruction s to return to the inn and the 1000 marks he has entrusted to him. thinking dromio to be a cheat he proceeds to beat him but Dromio runs away.