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Comedy of Errors

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Keely Dugan

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors: The Gold Chain
The Gold Chain

The Comedy of Errors
follows the activities of two sets of identical twins during the course of one day. Both sets of twins, Antipholus S. and Antipholus E. along with their servants Dromio S. and Dromio E., wind up in the same port town of Ephesus. Unknowing of their siblings’ presence, the two sets confuse one another for their similar counterparts. This strange situation results in the play’s ongoing theme known as mistaken identity.
Shakespeare uses a single object, a gold chain, to provide most of the scenarios for mistaken identity within the story. He also utilizes this piece of jewelry to support his other underlying themes of love and marriage and superstition. The chain adds a comedic element as well as a form of irony to
The Comedy of Errors
.

Irony
The story begins when the twins’ father, Aegeon, is arrested for traveling to Ephesus in search of them. The duke of Ephesus and the duke of his homeland had a feud, making his visit to the city illegal. In order to escape execution, Aegeon must raise two hundred ducats in bail money before sunset. This amount later causes the gold chain to become ironic when the reader discovers its true value: two hundred ducats.
Love and Marriage Theme
The gold chain makes its first appearance in Act II Scene I in a conversation between Antipholus E.’s wife, Adriana, and her sister, Luciana. Adriana is convinced her husband is cheating on her, making him late to lunch. She informs Luciana that Antipholus E. promised her a chain, but says she would easily trade it for his faithfulness. Through this dialogue, Shakespeare introduces his theme of love and marriage. He admonishes his audience that marriage relationships should not be based on material gifts and promises, but rather on faithful actions and attitudes of the heart.
Mistaken Identity
The gold chain reappears in Act III Scene I when Antipholus E. plans to use it as an excuse for his tardiness to lunch. He is soon denied access to his home in an example of mistaken identity, for the wrong Antipholus is already dining inside. In revenge, Antipholus E. decides to give the gold chain to the courtezan instead of Adriana. In this way, the gold chain creates conflict in the plotline and sets up a situation for later mistaken identity.
In Act III Scene II, the maker of the chain, named Angelo, accidentally gives it to Antipholus S. in another example of mistaken identity. Antipholus S. accepts the gold chain, viewing it as a lucky gift. Shakespeare purposefully does this to create suspense, as the audience thinks Antipholus S. is about to leave port with the chain.
Mistaken Identity
Love and Marriage Theme
Things begin to spiral out of control when Antipholus E. is arrested in Act IV Scene I. He refuses to pay Angelo for the gold chain which he never received. He then sends the wrong Dromio to Adriana to get his bail money. Shakespeare recaps his theme of love and marriage when Adriana gives the servant the bail money, despite her husband’s recent behavior. This action shows their true love.
Superstition Theme
The situation becomes further jumbled in Act IV Scene III. Antipholus E. had previously taken the courtezan’s ring, promising her the gold chain in exchange. When she finds herself with neither one returned, the courtezan approaches Antipholus S. in yet another example of mistaken identity. Antipholus S., having never met her before, thinks she is the devil’s mistress. The chain therefore supports Shakespeare’s final theme in the play: superstition. Ridiculed by Antipholus S. and Dromio S., the distraught courtezan goes to see Adriana.
Comedic Feel
Upon hearing about her husband’s continued odd behavior, Adriana decides to hire a “doctor” to heal him. The madman, named Dr. Pinch, chases down and ties up Antipholus E. and Dromio E. This set of twins knows nothing of the courtezan’s supposed conversation with them about the chain and is scared out of their wits. At this point, the play erupts into slapstick comedy.
Mistaken Identity
The story becomes heated once again as the gold chain is involved in one last scenario of mistaken identity. At the beginning of Act V, Angelo spots Antipholus S. prominently displaying the gold chain around his neck. Angelo believes he is Antipholus E., who has just denied that he gave him the chain. The two engage in a duel in the street, leading to the conclusion of the play.
Irony
The situation with the gold chain is resolved in the end of Act V. The whole family is reunited, and the characters realize their mistaken identity. Angelo and Antipholus E. reconcile their differences, the courtezan is given back her ring, and Antipholus S. returns the chain to its rightful owner. Antipholus E. then offers the two hundred ducats as bail for his father’s release. By this irony, the gold chain ties the beginning and the end of the play together. The duke refuses the payment, however, and the family skips off to a reunion dinner.
A Shakespearean Symbol

The Comedy of Errors
is a prime example of how Shakespeare often uses a single object to unify his plays. In this story, the gold chain provides scenarios for his main theme as well as connects the other two underlying themes. Not to mention, it cleverly adds to the comedic feel and irony of the tale. The gold chain truly “plays” an important role in
The Comedy of Errors
.
By Keely Dugan
Full transcript