Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Antipholus of Syracuse
Antipholus of Syracuse is the twin that is raised by his father, Egeon. At age eighteen, Antipholus wants to connect with his past and find his real identity; as a result, he leaves his father to seek his mother and twin brother. His search brings him to the forbidden city of Ephesus at approximately the same time that his father arrives there. During the play, Antipholus of Syracuse is characterized by naiveté, ignorance, and superstition. When strange occurrences begin to happen, he assumes that the city is plagued by witchcraft. When he thinks his servant is jesting with him, he beats him. When the courtesan approaches him, he assumes she is the devil personified. Not intelligent enough to reason out the cause of the "errors," he naively blames it all on black evil and witchcraft. At certain points, Antipholus reveals a romantic streak in his nature, which is evident in his wooing of Luciana; in fact, he makes his proposition to her in a poetic language reserved for only a few passages in this play, indicating that Shakespeare attaches importance to this character trait. In the final scene of the play, Antipholus of Syracuse finds what he has been seeking; he is reunited with his mother and twin brother; he also proposes to Luciana, the woman he has wooed during the play.
Critics have pointed out that Shakespeare has seemed to neglect Antipholus of Ephesus in the play, for Antipholus of Syracuse has been allotted a greater number of lines. Shakespeare's partiality is also seen in terms of his characterization. The dramatist has created the character of Antipholus of Ephesus with far less sensitivity than he has used for his brother. Antipholus of Ephesus is presented as something of a rogue, who vexes his wife by not being punctual and telling lies on his own behalf. Luciana, his sister-in-law, reveals that he is never kind to his wife and often he is totally rude. He is quick to temper, as seen when he threatens to break down his own door and when he threatens violence to his wife. He is also jealous and spiteful, having dinner with a courtesan to get even with Adriana and promising to give the courtesan a gold chain. Finally, he is demanding, as seen in his treatment of Dromio, and unconcerned about his past, as seen in his lack of interest in pursuing his family.
Dromios of Syracuse and Ephesus
The reason for grouping the two Dromios is that they are both quite easily interchangeable in their nature and in their roles, which come close to the Shakespearean "clown" or "fool". Both of them suffer under the hands of their masters and strike back with incessant jesting and quibbles. Each of the two attendants is exactly that, his master's attendant; therefore, neither has an identity outside of his station. Both Dromios believe they are turning into beasts (apes or asses) as a result of their state of confusion. Their role in the plot of the play is to create further confusion by their very existence and by their speech. In many ways, the twin servants become parodies of their twin masters.
Antipholus of Ephesus meets his match in Adriana, his wife who is even more suspicious in nature than he is. She is depicted not only as jealous, but also as being querulous to the point of being a shrew. This trait is made apparent by her own admission to her mother-in-law, the Abbess, and to Luciana when she says that the woman correctly accuses her of vile clamors against her husband. Adriana is the only character who shows some form of development; she finally admits her folly and accepts her fault in being tiresome with her husband.
Luciana is the more stable of the two sisters, almost always in control of her emotions. Although younger, unmarried, and inexperienced, she still has sound advice to give to Adriana. She is also extremely loyal to her elder sister, and while she checks her sister's jealous tantrums, she also secretly admonishes her brother- in-law in her sister's behalf. Though she is flattered by the compliments of Antipholus of Syracuse, she reports it to Adriana, believing that it was her brother-in-law who spoke to her. Once again she displays her loyalty when the Abbess scolds Adriana for being shrewish; Luciana comes to her sister's defense.