It is not uncommon to hear of siblings being separated at birth or a fairly young age for one reason or another and then being reunited later on in life. Even though they may grow up in different environments, practicing diverse religions, mannerisms, and morals, these siblings hold a bond stronger than most perceive. This relationship is uniquely strong when you are dealing with twins, and even more so when talking about identical twins. Throughout his play titled The Comedy of Errors, William Shakespeare uses deception and disguise between the two sets of identical twins to convey a witty play of events within the same family.
Some background information to better familiarize someone to the play as well as its significance is as follows. "The structure of the plot is much admired by critics" (Leone 74). This is due to the fact that although it is somewhat confusing, it is still easily possible to follow.
This could be a result of Rosenblum's belief that "the characters are shallowly developed" (95). Nevertheless, the play revolves around two identical brothers, both named Antipholus. They were shipwrecked and separated at a very young age. Now, one resides in Ephesus while the other lives in Syracuse. While the family was on the ship, Egeon (the twins' father) and his wife received a set of newborn identical twins, both named Dromio. These boys were to be attendants to their two sons (Rosenblum 90). After many confusing encounters in the play, things finally straighten out and lose all most of their complexity. This winding down provides the general denouement that is common in any play or novel.
Using identical twins was taking a giant leap into the literary unknown. Shakespeare's use of two sets of identical twins, as well as the intertwining of sex, money, and violence was taking a walk on the wild side. This was a quite ambitious and complex topic that would perplex many people for years to come (Fox 94). The material inside the play was dynamic in the sense that it was multifaceted and changing. "The plot of our farce does not, in the usual sense, advance. There are no developments, no shifts in course, no new complications--only variations on a theme" (Vaughn 14).
The conflict of the play comes into play when "the four young men who are wondering around Ephesus unaware of each others' existence" finally begin to suspect that something is suspicious (Fox 95). It is a "fast and furious farce of mistaken identity" (Fox 94). Antipholus of Ephesus states, "Known unto these, and to myself disguis'd" (Shakespeare 2.2). This line begins to express his thoughts of being in disguise around everyone else and his other half.
The story line uses a variety of ideas and conflicts towards the conclusion on the play. "The Comedy of Errors is certainly a remarkably eclectic play, which depends for its comic impact upon knowing the theatrical game the playwright is playing" (Charney 26). This eclecticism is what keeps the play somewhat scattered yet humorous. The eclectic aspect throughout the play also contributes to the overall theme of deception. There are so many different situations and conflicts that one would not be surprised to see someone be deceived.
Through all the struggles, mishaps, and confusion, the brothers managed to meet up again after all the trouble and stay united through the remaining of their lives. This is a feeling that many people with lost siblings wish to feel sometime within their life. The feeling is the reuniting with that lost loved one that makes the person feel somewhat complete for once. The words that the Dromios agree upon best describe this emotion: "We came into the world like brother and brother: And now let's go hand in hand, not one before the other" (Shakespeare 5.1). This quote again emphasizes the strong bond between brothers that should never be broken no matter what the reason may be. This idea in itself stresses the all important role of brotherhood in our society.