Set in the city of Ephesus, The Comedy of Errors concerns the farcical misadventures of two sets of identical twins. Many years earlier, the Syracusan merchant Egeon had twin sons, both named Antipholus. At their birth, he bought another pair of newborn twins, both named Dromio, as their servants. In a shipwreck, Egeon lost his wife, one of his sons, and one of the Dromios.
Egeon's remaining son, Antipholus of Syracuse, and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, come to Ephesus, where—unknown to them—their lost twins now live. The visitors are confused, angered, or intrigued when local residents seem to know them.
Similarly, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus run into puzzling reactions from the people they know—who have been dealing, unwittingly, with the Syracusans. Antipholus of Ephesus's wife bars him from his house; he is jailed after a jeweler claims he owes money on a gold chain he never received.
When the four twins come together, all is finally resolved. In one last twist, their parents reunite as well.
Early printed texts
The Comedy of Errors was first published in the 1623 First Folio and that text serves as the source for all subsequent editions of the play.
Picturing The Comedy of Errors
As part of an NEH-funded project, the Folger digitized thousands of 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century images representing Shakespeare’s plays. Some of these images show actors in character, while others show the plays as if they were real-life events—telling the difference isn't always easy. A selection of images related to The Comedy of Errors is shown below, with links our digital image collection.
More images of The Comedy of Errors can be seen in our digital image collection. (Because of how they were cataloged, some images from other plays might appear in the image searches linked here, so always check the sidebar to see if the image is described as part of a larger group.)