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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."