Imagens das páginas

relations which ingenuity may discover between “The Comedy of Errors" and other plays of Shakespeare. There is entanglement in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and mistaken identity in "Twelfth Night." The attitude of Adriana to her husband, Antipholus of Ephesus, is repeated with much greater fulness in “The Taming of the Shrew." In all these instances the Elizabethan poet takes from Plautus what he finds left there in a state entirely mundane and superficial, and he adds, to it his own spiritual colouring. In "Hamlet" he was to say, speaking of the Players, that

"Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light for them;


Shakespeare had always present with him this conviction of the "lightness" of the Latin playwright, whose "Miles Gloriosus" had led directly to the earliest English comedy," Ralph Roister Doister," and who had inspired "Gammer Gurton's Needle" with his boisterous humour. Shakespeare does not reject or disdain this boyish gaiety, but he adds solidity to it; he takes the naked Latin farce and dresses it in rich brocades.

The romantic humanity of Shakespeare is finely illustrated by every one of the additions and modifications which make "The Comedy of Errors" what it is. Even the points which are merely indicated add to this impression. For instance, the "Menæchmi" leaves us in doubt, when the curtain falls, as to the future welfare of the characters; we feel that they may easily slip back into unseemly wrangle and nefarious intrigue. Their imbroglio has been excessively diverting, but it has led to

no distinct moral issue. But when "The Comedy of Errors" closes, it has diverted us still more than the "Menæchmi" did, and we feel in addition that its confusions have led directly towards peace and repose. There is nothing left uncomfortable and furtive, there is no temptation to return to the wrangling mood. We are convinced that Adriana's shrewishness has been shamed out of her for life; that Luciana will make a perfect consort for Antipholus of Syracuse; that Ægeon and the Abbess - now recognised as the matron Æmilia - will gather their patriarchal family around them in Ephesus, and that all will be tranquillity.

Finally, we must not allow ourselves to fall into the error of overpraising "The Comedy of Errors." It is not a work of the highest order; it is marked by executive faults, tameness in the versification, timidity in the exposition of character, crudity and thinness in the language. It is not one of Shakespeare's great complex masterpieces, glowing and luminous from beginning to end. But it is a charmingly sportive and garrulous farce of his unfinished youth, and it has the extreme importance of being that work in which, more than anywhere else, we can watch the technical development of his style and the evidences of his growing skill and selective self-criticism.




SOLINUS, duke of Ephesus.

ÆGEON, a merchant of Syracuse.

ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus,) twin brothers, and sons to
ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse, Egeon and Æmilia.

DROMIO of Ephesus, twin brothers, and attendants on
DROMIO of Syracuse, the two Antipholuses.

BALTHAZAR, a merchant.

ANGELO, a goldsmith.

First Merchant, friend to Antipholus of Syracuse.
Second Merchant, to whom Angelo is a debtor.
PINCH, a schoolmaster.

EMILIA, wife to Ægeon, an abbess at Ephesus.

ADRIANA, wife to Antipholus of Ephesus.

LUCIANA, her sister.

LUCE, servant to Adriana.

A Courtezan.

Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants.

SCENE - Ephesus.

1 This play was first printed in the First Folio. The Dramatis Persona was first supplied in Nicholas Rowe's edition of 1709.



A HALL IN THE DUKE'S PALACE Enter DUKE, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officers, and other Attendants




procure my fall,

And by the doom of death end woes and all.

DUKE. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more;

I am not partial to infringe our laws :

The enmity and discord which of late

Sprung from the rancorous out


of your


To merchants, our well-dealing


Who, wanting guilders to redeem their lives,

Have seal'd his rigorous statutes with their bloods,

4 partial] inclined.

8 guilders] money. Cf. IV, i, 4, infra. The word reproduces the Dutch

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