The Comedy of Errors: Plot Summary

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The Comedy of Error’s is Shakespeare’s shortest comedy and one of his earliest works, but the plot is complex! To help you get your head around this complex plot, we bring you the entire story in one, simple text.

The Comedy of Errors: Plot Summary

The rivalry between two major cities Ephesus and Syracuse has resulted in Egeon, a Merchant from Syracuse being sentenced to death in Ephesus for daring to travel there.

There is a travel ban between the two cities. As he is being led to his execution, Egeon explains to Solinus the Duke of Ephesus that he has travelled to Ephesus to find his wife and his son who is a twin and was separated from him in a shipwreck 25 years earlier. 

The other twin grew up with Egeon but is also travelling the world to find his mother and his twin. Both twins are called ‘Antipholus’ and they both have slaves called ‘Dromio’.

The Duke is so moved by Egeon’s story that he grants him twenty four hours to find the thousands mark ransom to save his life. 

Unbeknown to Egeon, his son, Antipholus of Syracuse, has also travelled to Ephesus to find his twin brother and mother. He has brought his slave Dromio with him. Neither Egeon nor Antipholus of Syracuse realise that the missing twin Antipholus of Ephesus is well healed citizen in Ephesus. 

Adriana is the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus and she mistakes his twin to be her husband.

She drags Antipholus of Syracuse home to dinner believing him to be her husband, Dromio of Syracuse is put on the door to guard it. He refuses her real husband entry to the house. While taking dinner Antipholus of Syracuse falls in love with Luciana, Adriana’s sister who is appalled at his behaviour believing him to be her brother in law.

Antipholus of Ephesus has ordered a gold chain which is accidently given to Antipholus of Syracuse. When asked to pay for the chain Antipholus of Ephesus refuses saying he never received the chain. He is put under arrest for having a debt to pay. 

Adriana believes that her husband has gone mad and demands that he is kept in a cell. Adriana pursues her husband but accidently finds Antipholus of Syracuse instead. He has been trying to leave the city as he thinks it is enchanted. The debtors are also pursuing him so he and his slave Dromio take refuge in an abbey.

The abbess Emilia takes in Antiphosus of Syracuse. Meanwhile Antipholus of Ephesus has visited the Duke to complain of his wife’s behaviour and to ask him to do something about it. Adriana also visits the Duke to ask that her husband is removed from the Abbey and returned to her care so that she can reconcile the debtors.

The abbess, having realised the cause of the confusion, brings out Antipholus of Syracuse and unites him with his long lost twin Antipholus of Ephesus. She reveals herself to be the wife of Egeon long lost in a shipwreck. 

The Duke pardons Egeon and reunites him with his wife Emilia. The twins are amazed at their identical appearance.

Antipholus of Syracuse is now exonerated with Luciana and he is able to pursue her romantically again without her thinking he is her sister’s husband. The play ends with the two Dromio’s embracing and the confusion being explained and the family once again reunited after 25 years.

DUKE:
Why here begins his morning story right: These two Antipholus’, these two so like, And these two Dromios, One in semblance – besides his urging of her wreck at sea. These are the parents to these children which accidentally are met together ...
DROMIO:
We came into the world like brother and brother, and now let’s go hand in hand, not one before the other
(Act 5, Scene 1)