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The Comedy of Errors (Folger Shakespeare Library) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare’s Romances and of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and their editing.

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King’s University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare’s plays.

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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743484886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743484886
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By King Dimholt on July 13, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Along with "Midsummer Night's Dream," "The Comedy of Errors" remains my favorite comedy to this day. While this is a hilarious play, the story actually starts quite sad. A merchant from Syracuse named Egeon is illegally in Ephesus, and will be executed unless he can come up with 1,000 marks. He appeals to the Duke and explains that he has been separated from his wife, his two identical twin sons (Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse), and their 2 identical twin servants (Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse).

Yes, it DOES pass plausibility that twins would have identical names, but the confusion to come can only occur if the names match. So, we have to be willing to forgive this if we are to enjoy the merry comedy to come. the Duke is moved into sympathy, and gives Egeon the day to come up with 1,000 marks. There are some who feel this sad scene ruins the story, but the truth is this one bit of sadness prevents the comedy from becoming an utter farce. Also, despite the comedy to come, this sad scene sets the mood, we really never forget about this one serious element, and we enjoy the comedy as we are in suspense about Egeon's fate.

Well, in comes Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse. We learn that Egeon was speaking of them. (A Syracuse and D Syracuse grew up with Egeon.) What makes this comedy so wonderful is that not only does Shakespeare maintain the comedy, but he gradually increases the tension.

At FIRST, the errors only lead to comical misunderstandings. But later, more outside parties get involved, and the situations grow more serious. Later, Antipholus of Ephesus suspects his wife is having an affair. (And in my opinion, he had stronger grounds for suspecting this than the so called noble Othello.
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By jace on October 24, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Comedy of Errors was written by William Shakespeare. He was born in 1564 and died in 1616. He wrote many famous plays such as Hamlet, King Lear, and A Midsummers Night Dream. He was also a renowned poet and wrote many English sonnets.
In The Comedy of Errors, a man sentenced to death, Edgeon, is revealed to have had two male twins both named Antipholus, both having two servants each named Dromio. It shown that he was separated from his family many years in the past through a shipwreck. He and his wife were each left with one son and one servant each. Over time, Edgeon, living in Syracruse, let his son and servant go to explore the world. His wife was left in the town of Ephesus where her son became a wealthy merchant. The play starts with Edgeon being walked to his execution for being a syracrusian walking into the town of Ephesus. The Duke allows him to have one day to search for his family to be set free, and by coincidence, his son, Antipholus of Syracruse is there along with Antipholus of Ephesus whom lives there. The play then spirals outward form the two very different twins interacting with people from each other’s lives, including the two servants named Dromio.
Shakespeare wrote this play to entertain the public using slapstick comedy and an intriguing plotline. He also wrote this play to showcase the humor of human error. The play works off of tragic events involving loss of family and an execution, but the play quickly turns these things into events of humor. The symbols of a gold chain, a ring, and a thousand marks add to the theme of outward humor rather that plain inside “joke-like” humor.
The play was filled with humor, although it is hard to decipher it through the old modern English at times.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Identical twins have only one purpose in movies and plays: to cause mass confusion when people mix them up.

So the mayhem is doubled in "The Comedy of Errors," which has not one but TWO sets of identical twins who are totally unaware of each other's existence. Shakespeare's adaptation of a Plautus play is basically non-stop wackiness and slapstick, without much plot besides the two Antipholuses and the two Dromios constantly being mistaken (and sometimes mistaking each other) for their twin brothers.

The Syracusan merchant Egeon is condemned to death in Ephesus for entering the city, for... some reason that's never very well explained. He can only be saved if he pays one thousand marks within one day. So he tells the Ephesian Duke his tale of woe -- his wide Aemilia gave birth to identical twin boys, on the same day a poor woman also produced identical twin boys to be their slaves. But then his wife, one baby and one slave baby were lost in a shipwreck, leaving Egeon with the other twins. Now Antipholus has gone out in search of his lost twin, accompanied by his slave Dromio.

Got that? It's pretty much the setup for the whole plot. Here's the problem: the missing twins are actually in Ephesus, and are also named Antipholus and Dromio. Even better, neither of them has any weight, scars, haircuts or fashion eccentricities that keep them from being mistaken for each other. What wackiness!

So when Dromio (Ephesus) mistakes Antipholus (Syracuse) for his master, he ends up getting his butt kicked -- and even worse, Antipholus' (Ephesus) wife Adriana mistakes Antipholus (Syracuse) for her husband and thinks he's cheating on her. But her unknown brother-in-law-mistaken-for-her-husband instead falls in love with her sister.
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