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recriminates. The wife summons her father, "Senex,” and desires to be taken home, further alleging that her husband "makes her a stale and a laughing-stocke to all the world." The unfortunate Traveller swears by all the gods that the accusation brought against him is utterly false, but he is charged with madness by the Senex, and actually feigns madness in order to frighten them. They go off to fetch "Medicus" (a "Physitian"), and the Traveller promptly hies him to his ship. On their return the Senex and Medicus meet the Citizen and accuse him of madness; and he is only saved from being carried to the house of the Medicus by the timely arrival of Messenio, the Traveller's servant, who for the "good turne" is thanked and promised his freedom. The Citizen then departs, and the Traveller appears, and is reminded of the promised freedom by Messenio, who thus makes his real master "starke mad." Finally, the Citizen again appears on the scene, and in the dénouement full explanations ensue between the brothers as to "how all this matter came about"; and "much pleasant Error" thereby finds a happy ending.
We are now in a position to judge of the extent to which Shakespeare made use of the Plautine version; and the result is to show how skilfully he elaborated and improved on the situation and characters of the old Latin comedy. "The comparison," as Watkiss Lloyd remarks in his Essays (p. 49, ed. 1875), "can only be fully enjoyed by reading the two productions conjointly, and then the completeness with which the later poet has remodelled and recast the materials of his predecessor becomes amusingly apparent-the twin dramas have all the resemblance and all the differences of
the twins their heroes."
The plot as Shakespeare found it
was doubled and trebled in its farcical character and incidents in The Errors. The Errors indeed is the high water mark of elaborate farce in its highest signification. "Shakespeare," says Coleridge in his Literary Remains, "has in this piece presented us with a legitimate farce in exactest consonance with the philosophical principles and character of farce, as distinguished from comedy and from entertainments. A proper farce is mainly distinguished from comedy by the license allowed, and even required, in the fable, in order to produce strange and laughable situations. The story need not be probable, it is enough that it is possible. A comedy would scarcely allow even the two Antipholuses; because, although there have been instances of almost indistinguishable likeness in two persons, yet these are mere individual accidents, casus ludentis naturae, and the verum will not excuse the inverisimile. But farce dares add the two Dromios, and is justified in so doing by the laws of its end and constitution. In a word, farces commence in a postulate, which must be granted." To mention some details of Shakespeare's handling, he transfers the scene of the action from Epidamnum to Ephesus, and thereby secures a locality where the "errors" of the play would seem most likely and reasonable as the result of sorcery and witchcraft. He retains the twin Menaechmi, the Traveller and the Citizen, the Mulier being represented by Adriana, Erotium by the Courtezan, Messenio by Dromio of Syracuse, and the Medicus by Dr. Pinch. On the other hand, he discards, as useless for his purposes, the stereotyped character of the parasite Peniculus, Senex the father-in-law of the Citizen, and the cook and maid of
Erotium. He adds numerous fresh characters, viz., the Duke of Ephesus-" when he can he always introduces a Duke," as Dowden remarks-Ægeon, Dromio of Ephesus, Balthazar, Angelo, the First and Second Merchants, Luciana, Luce, and Æmilia; many of whom would be within the range of his own knowledge and observation. He works out such love interest as the situations afforded without impairing the force of the main farcical incidents; and in the pathetic story of Ægeon he sets the whole action in a background or framework of tragicomedy perhaps of his own invention and arrangement, or possibly taken from the story told to the Siennese traveller in the Suppositi of Ariosto. In short, there is in The Errors a wealth of new invention and construction which raises it almost to the height of an original play.
It has been already remarked that Shakespeare was likewise indebted to the Amphitryon of Plautus for the central incident of his play, viz., the amusing scene, Act III. sc. i., in which Antipholus of Ephesus is locked out of his own house while his brother is dining within. It is quite possible, nay more than probable, that this incident had been introduced into the Historie of Error; and that this was the source of Shakespeare's knowledge and employment of the episode. It is also probable that the scene from the Amphitryon originated the introduction of the twin Dromios, as also the substitution of the wife Adriana for the "courtezan" as the hostess of Antipholus of Syracuse; and the facile dramatic skill of Shakespeare, even at this early period of his career, is shown by his making the visit of Antipholus of Ephesus to the courtezan appear as a natural act of resentment and re
taliation for his exclusion by his own wife from his own house.
Although Shakespeare's delineation of character in The Errors has been already spoken of as comparatively timid and shadowy, this remark must only be so understood in relation to the wealth of creative genius exhibited in the great characters of his later plays. Even at this early period of his career very considerable skill is shown by him in the difficult task of discriminating the characters of the twin masters and attendants of The Errors. Great cleverness in dramatic contrast appears in the collocation of the somewhat sedate and melancholy Antipholus of Syracuse with his servant the merry and jesting Dromio of Syracuse; and no less in the association of the impatient and passionate Antipholus of Ephesus with the somewhat precise and discreet Dromio of Ephesus. And yet this contrast is never sharp, never overdone, otherwise it would have destroyed the illusion for the spectator, even when armed with all previous knowledge. The twin characters may be said to be outlined but not fully filled in. Antipholus of Syracuse has set out to find his lost mother and brother, he has not succeeded after a quest of some years, and consequently he is "dull with care and melancholy" (I. ii. 20).
He that commends me to mine own content
He is kind to his attendant though he beats him out of habit, as the proper thing to do. He is amiable, and intellectual, steady and constant, and, above all, sentimental, as we learn from his poetic declaration to Luciana in Act III.
He refers to his love-making again in the last scene
What I told you then,
I hope I shall have leisure to make good.
His character is altogether of finer grain than that of his brother. His brother Antipholus of Ephesus is cast in an inferior mould, both in intellect and morals. He is sensual in temperament. When his doors are shut against him he is capable of dining with the courtezan and giving her the chain in order to spite his wife (III. i. 117, 118). Smarting under his injuries he is brutal towards his wife (IV. iv. 100). He is vindictive and passionate; he will "bestow a rope's end among his wife and her confederates" (IV. i. 16). From the point of view of dramatic retribution he probably deserves all the hard treatment which Shakespeare has meted out to him.
The contrast between the twin Dromios is of like character, but it does not appear to be so carefully worked out, nor in fact did the needs of the piece require this. Dromio of Syracuse is described by his master (I. ii. 19) as—
A trusty villain, Sir; that very oft,
When I am dull with care and melancholy,
This Dromio has a plentiful fund of animal spirits and irrepressible wit, as befits a man who has roamed about the world. His temperament is clearly seen in the quibbling dialogue of Act II. sc. ii., in which he rises superior to his master in the art of verbal quip and crank; in his equally smart description of Nell the kitchen-wench in Act III. sc. ii.; and, above all, in his description, with its outpouring of