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MonkeyNotes-The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
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Notes

The first scene of the play describes the many hardships of Egeon's life; he was shipwrecked and has been separated from his wife and son for many years. The impending death of "hopeless Egeon" sets a mood of woe that seems more appropriate for a tragedy than this light-hearted comedy. But the gloomy tale has a purpose. The darkness of this opening scene will be in sharp contrast to the celebration found in the closing scene. Egeon's story also provides the necessary backdrop against which the play can proceed.

The audience of the play learns vital information in this opening scene. Without this supplementary knowledge about Egeon's past, the audience (or reader) would have difficulty following the complex plot with its two sets of identical twins, especially since the twins have the same names. There are two Antipholus and two Dromios, which make the situation doubly complex, doubly fun, and doubly filled with "errors."


There is also a romantic vein in this opening scene. Egeon is troubled by the loss of his family and nobly seeks them for five years. He romantically declares that he is willing to travel to "the bounds of Asia" to find his sons and wife. The romantic element is enhanced by the names used for the cities and people in the play; Syracuse is an ancient city on the island of Sicily, and Ephesus is an ancient city in Greece. The names of the main characters also have an ancient Greek ring to them: Antipholus, Egeon, Solinus, Balthazar, and Dromio.

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MonkeyNotes-The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

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