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from William Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’


       14159: Curso monográfico de literatura inglesa: Shakespeare in Performance

Curso 2006-2007

Profesor: Vicente Forés

Alumno: Alfredo Carbonell Rico


Good Morrow, Master! My name is Angelo. I am just a humble goldsmith. As any other merchant from all over the world, I trade with golden products such as necklaces, rings or gold chains. A long, long time ago in a far, far away country named Ephesus it happened to me that a series of terrible identity mistakes shook my life. I will tell you now the story for the small price of an excellent mark . If you agree, keep on reading. You will not regret it!!


Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse, was condemned to death in Ephesus for violating the ban against travel between the two rival cities. As he was led to his execution, he told the Ephesian Duke, Solinus, that he had come to Syracuse in search of his wife and one of his twin sons, who were separated from him 25 years ago in a shipwreck. The other twin, who grew up with Egeon, was also traveling the world in search of the missing half of their family. (The twins, we learn, are identical, and each has an identical twin slave named Dromio.) The Duke was so moved by this story that he granted Egeon a day to raise the thousand-mark ransom that would be necessary to save his life.

Meanwhile, unknown to Egeon, his son Antipholus of Syracuse (and Antipholus' slave Dromio) was also visiting Ephesus--where Antipholus' missing twin, known as Antipholus of Ephesus, was a prosperous citizen of the city. Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus' wife, mistook Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband and dragged him home for dinner, leaving Dromio of Syracuse standing guard at the door to admit no one. Shortly thereafter, Antipholus of Ephesus (with his slave Dromio of Ephesus) returned home and was refused entry to his own house. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse had fallen in love with Luciana, Adriana's sister, who was appalled at the behavior of the man she thought was her brother-in-law.(3)

The confusion increased when a gold chain ordered by the Ephesian Antipholus was given to Antipholus of Syracuse by me. Read, read how it was done:


3.2 Before the house of Antipholus of Ephesus


Enter ANGELO with the chain


Master Antipholus,--


Ay, that's my name.


I know it well, sir, lo, here is the chain.

I thought to have ta'en you at the Porpentine:

The chain unfinish'd made me stay thus long.


What is your will that I shall do with this?


What please yourself, sir: I have made it for you.


Made it for me, sir! I bespoke it not.


Not once, nor twice, but twenty times you have.

Go home with it and please your wife withal;

And soon at supper-time I'll visit you

And then receive my money for the chain.



I pray you, sir, receive the money now,

For fear you ne'er see chain nor money more.


You are a merry man, sir: fare you well.

Exit (1)


As any other Merchant in the World, I have my friends, my costumers but also my supplier, who sell me the gold I work with. As long as I do not like being asked for money, I do not even name him. He is just ‘the second merchant’ and his role in this mess was to increase the tension of the identity mistakes, for it comes that as long as the problem is money, the public forces got involved and what in the beginning was a funny confusion became a legal matter. See how it came that I asked the wrong Antipholus for the gold chain, my Lord:


4.1 A public place.


Enter Second Merchant, ANGELO, and an Officer

Second Merchant

You know since Pentecost the sum is due,

And since I have not much importuned you;

Nor now I had not, but that I am bound

To Persia, and want guilders for my voyage:

Therefore make present satisfaction,

Or I'll attach you by this officer.


Even just the sum that I do owe to you

Is growing to me by Antipholus,

And in the instant that I met with you

He had of me a chain: at five o'clock

I shall receive the money for the same.

Pleaseth you walk with me down to his house,

I will discharge my bond and thank you too.

Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus and DROMIO of Ephesus from the courtezan's


That labour may you save: see where he comes.


While I go to the goldsmith's house, go thou

And buy a rope's end: that will I bestow

Among my wife and her confederates,

For locking me out of my doors by day.

But, soft! I see the goldsmith. Get thee gone;

Buy thou a rope and bring it home to me.


I buy a thousand pound a year: I buy a rope.



A man is well holp up that trusts to you:

I promised your presence and the chain;

But neither chain nor goldsmith came to me.

Belike you thought our love would last too long,

If it were chain'd together, and therefore came not.


Saving your merry humour, here's the note

How much your chain weighs to the utmost carat,

The fineness of the gold and chargeful fashion.

Which doth amount to three odd ducats more

Than I stand debted to this gentleman:

I pray you, see him presently discharged,

For he is bound to sea and stays but for it.


I am not furnish'd with the present money;

Besides, I have some business in the town.

Good signior, take the stranger to my house

And with you take the chain and bid my wife

Disburse the sum on the receipt thereof:

Perchance I will be there as soon as you.


Then you will bring the chain to her yourself?


No; bear it with you, lest I come not time enough.


Well, sir, I will. Have you the chain about you?


An if I have not, sir, I hope you have;

Or else you may return without your money.


Nay, come, I pray you, sir, give me the chain:

Both wind and tide stays for this gentleman,

And I, to blame, have held him here too long.


Good Lord! you use this dalliance to excuse

Your breach of promise to the Porpentine.

I should have chid you for not bringing it,

But, like a shrew, you first begin to brawl.

Second Merchant

The hour steals on; I pray you, sir, dispatch.


You hear how he importunes me;--the chain!


Why, give it to my wife and fetch your money.


Come, come, you know I gave it you even now.

Either send the chain or send me by some token.


Fie, now you run this humour out of breath,

where's the chain? I pray you, let me see it.

Second Merchant

My business cannot brook this dalliance.

Good sir, say whether you'll answer me or no:

If not, I'll leave him to the officer.


I answer you! what should I answer you?


The money that you owe me for the chain.


I owe you none till I receive the chain.


You know I gave it you half an hour since.


You gave me none: you wrong me much to say so.


You wrong me more, sir, in denying it:

Consider how it stands upon my credit.

Second Merchant

Well, officer, arrest him at my suit.


I do; and charge you in the duke's name to obey me.


This touches me in reputation.

Either consent to pay this sum for me

Or I attach you by this officer.


Consent to pay thee that I never had!

Arrest me, foolish fellow, if thou darest.


Here is thy fee; arrest him, officer,

I would not spare my brother in this case,

If he should scorn me so apparently.


I do arrest you, sir: you hear the suit.


I do obey thee till I give thee bail.

But, sirrah, you shall buy this sport as dear

As all the metal in your shop will answer.


Sir, sir, I will have law in Ephesus,

To your notorious shame; I doubt it not.(1)


Now, I will tell you how the trial was. A trial where Antipholus of Ephesus obviously denied he had any gold chain from me and where things were wrong (or right) when he decided to escape with his servant to a near Abbey. See, see how it was:


5.1 A street before a Priory.


Enter Second Merchant and ANGELO


I am sorry, sir, that I have hinder'd you;

But, I protest, he had the chain of me,

Though most dishonestly he doth deny it.

Second Merchant

How is the man esteemed here in the city?


Of very reverend reputation, sir,

Of credit infinite, highly beloved,

Second to none that lives here in the city:

His word might bear my wealth at any time.

Second Merchant

Speak softly; yonder, as I think, he walks.

Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse and DROMIO of Syracuse


'Tis so; and that self chain about his neck

Which he forswore most monstrously to have.

Good sir, draw near to me, I'll speak to him.

Signior Antipholus, I wonder much

That you would put me to this shame and trouble;

And, not without some scandal to yourself,

With circumstance and oaths so to deny

This chain which now you wear so openly:

Beside the charge, the shame, imprisonment,

You have done wrong to this my honest friend,

Who, but for staying on our controversy,

Had hoisted sail and put to sea to-day:

This chain you had of me; can you deny it?


I think I had; I never did deny it.

Second Merchant

Yes, that you did, sir, and forswore it too.


Who heard me to deny it or forswear it?

Second Merchant

These ears of mine, thou know'st did hear thee.

Fie on thee, wretch! 'tis pity that thou livest

To walk where any honest man resort.


Thou art a villain to impeach me thus:

I'll prove mine honour and mine honesty

Against thee presently, if thou darest stand.

Second Merchant

I dare, and do defy thee for a villain.

They Draw.

Enter ADRIANA, LUCIANA, the Courtezan, and others


Hold, hurt him not, for God's sake! he is mad.

Some get within him, take his sword away:

Bind Dromio too, and bear them to my house.


Run, master, run; for God's sake, take a house!

This is some priory. In, or we are spoil'd!

Exeunt Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse to the Priory



My lord, in truth, thus far I witness with him,

That he dined not at home, but was lock'd out.


But had he such a chain of thee or no?


He had, my lord: and when he ran in here,

These people saw the chain about his neck.(1)


The situation is finally resolved by the Abbess, Emilia, who brought out the set of twins and revealed herself to be Egeon's long-lost wife. Antipholus of Ephesus reconciled with Adriana; Egeon was pardoned by the Duke and reunited with his spouse; Antipholus of Syracuse resumed his romantic pursuit of Luciana, and all ended happily with the two Dromios embracing(3). But now I must tell how it came that I reckon my own mistake (due to the physical similarity) and more important than this, how I got the money for my work:




That is the chain, sir, which you had of me.



I think it be, sir; I deny it not.



And you, sir, for this chain arrested me.


I think I did, sir; I deny it not.


I sent you money, sir, to be your bail,

By Dromio; but I think he brought it not.


No, none by me.



This purse of ducats I received from you,

And Dromio, my man, did bring them me.

I see we still did meet each other's man,

And I was ta'en for him, and he for me,

And thereupon these errors are arose.(1)


This has been the story so far from my very point of view. And now, here is my existentialist question: Which was my role in all this mess? Well, as I said before, I think that my colleague and I essentially contributed to raise the dramatic tension of the story for the identity mistake was at the beginning a funny matter but with the inclusion of the gold chain and the money it became a legal matter. And it was that at this point the local authorities got involved in the case and that Antipholus and Dromio from Ephesus escaped to the Abbey from which the mother of the twins and wife to Egeon untied the knot. So I must humbly accept that my role in this story was essential. How could the story have been without me? You never know, but you can bet that without a trial and the intervention of the authorities this story would have been a bit boring, with a identity mistake after another without any more serious consequences.


And now, how are you going to pay me, master? Three thousand ducats or an Excellent mark?












1-TEXT:, Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Inc.



2- Douthat, Ross. SparkNote on The Comedy of Errors. 28 Nov. 2006 <>.


3- The Comedy of Errors

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©Alfredo Carbonell Rico

©a.r.e.a./Dr.Vicente Forés López

Universitat de Valencia press

September 2006- January 2007

Last update: 1st February 2007