comedy of errors

The Comedy of Errors: Quick Revision

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The Comedy of Errors: Synopsis

The states of Syracuse and Ephesus were enemies. The law in Ephesus put to death any merchant of Syracuse found in Ephesus unless he paid a thousand marks as ransom for his life. Aegeon, a merchant from Syracuse was found in Ephesus and taken to the Duke for punishment. At the Duke’s command Aegeon narrated the story of his life. He had once gone to Epidamnum for work after his marriage. After sometime his wife joined him there. Soon she delivered a pair of identical twins. Aegeon bought another set of identical twins born at the same time, in the same place to serve his sons. While returning to Syracuse their ship was caught in a terrible storm.Aegeon and his wife got separated. While Aegeon had his younger son and younger slave with him, his wife had the two elder children. Aegeon reached Syracuse safely with his younger son and the younger slave boy but he never found out where his wife and elder son were. He was not even sure whether they were alive. When his younger son grew up he set out to search for his mother. Aegeon did not hear from him for many years and so he too left to search for his son. On the seventh year of their separation Aegeon reached Ephesus. Meanwhile, unknown to him his younger son had also reached Ephesus the same day. Aegeons elder son had been sold to Menaphon, the Duke’s uncle. He had been in Ephesus for twenty years and was a respected member of society. His bravery in wars had made the Duke marry him to Adriana, a rich heiress of Ephesus. Now, the presence of both the brothers and their slaves caused confusion as they were identical twins with the same names as well. When Antipholus of Syracuse sent his slave Dromio to book a room in an inn, his brother’s slave Dromio came and asked him to come home for dinner saying that his wife was calling him. Antipholus lost his temper at what he thought was a joke and beat Dromio up saying he had no wife. Dromio ran home to his mistress and reported what had happened. The jealous Adriana came angrily to Antipholus’ inn and persuaded him to come to her house. While they were having dinner Adriana’s real husband, Antipholus of Ephesus, came home with his slave but the servants would not admit them saying the mistress was having dinner with the master. Antipholus left angry and surprised. When Antipholus of Syracuse left the house a goldsmith gave him a chain mistaking him for his brother later he asked the real Antipholus for the money and Antipholus denied having received the chain. So he was arrested. Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio were given shelter by an abbess. Adriana realized the folly of her jealousy when she was rebuked by the abbess. Meanwhile, the Duke reached the execution ground near the abbey with Aegeon. Adriana and Antipholus both presented their complaints to him. Aegeon mistook his elder son for his younger son and asked him to pay his ransom. At this time the abbess came out with Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio. The abbess was revealed to be Aegeon’s lost wife and the whole family was reunited.

Questions are based on Charles Lamb’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors”.

Comedy of Errors:Passage I

“The states of Syracuse………..of his unfortunate life”

Answer the following questions:

  1. Name the states which were on unfriendly terms. What was the cruel law at Ephesus?

Ans: Syracuse and Ephesus were the states on unfriendly terms.

The cruel law of Ephesus ordained that if any merchant of Syracuse was seen in the city of Syracuse, he would be put to death unless he could pay a thousand marks to ransom his life.

  1. Who was brought before the duke of Ephesus and why? What did the duke ask him to do before pronouncing his death sentence? 2+3

Ans:  Aegeon, an old merchant of Syracuse was brought before the duke of Ephesus as he was discovered on the streets of Ephesus. It was against the law for a merchant from Syracuse to be found in Ephesus.

The duke of Ephesus asked Aegeon to narrate the history of his life and the reason behind coming to the forbidden streets of Ephesus before pronouncing his death sentence.

  1. Why wasn’t Aegeon afraid to die? What task did he find heavy?

Ans: Aegeon said that he was not afraid to die because sorrow had made him weary of life.

Aegeon found the task of relating the history of his unfortunate life to be heavy.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. There was a cruel law at:

a) Syracuse

b) Ephesus

b) Syria

d) Egypt.

Ans: (b)

2. On what condition would a merchant from Syracuse be pardoned?

a) Under no circumstance would he be pardoned.

b) If he told the reason of his transgression

c) If he paid thousand marks

d) If he pleased the duke

Ans: (c)

3. Aegeon was asked to:

a) ) narrate the story of his life

b) become a citizen of Ephesus

c) go back to Syracuse

d) none of these

Ans: (a)

4. Aegeon was not reluctant to:

a) die

b) tell the story of his life

c) pay the fine

d) escape the punishment

Ans: (a)

Comedy of Errors:Passage II

“I was born at…….by the fury of the storm”

Answer the following questions:

  1. How did Aegeon and his wife have two sets of identical twins?

Ans: Aegeon went to Epidamnum on business. On being delayed there for more than six months, he sent for his wife. She delivered a pair of identical twins soon after she reached Epidamnum. At the time when Aegeon’s wife delivered her twin sons, a por woman lodged in the same inn also delivered twin sons. The couple being exceedingly poor, Aegeon bought the boys to be brought up to serve his sons.

  1. When did the storm start? What did the sailors do during the storm?

Ans: The ship, in which Aegeon and his family were travelling, had sailed about one league from Epidamnum when the storm started.

The storm was so violent that the sailors saw no chance of saving the ship. They crowded into a boat leaving Aegeon, his wife and children in the ship.

Choose the correct answer:

  1. Where and how long was Aegeon detained?

a) In Ephesus for one year

b) In Ephesus for six months

c) In Epidamnum for more than six months

d) in Epidamnum for a month

Ans: (c)

2. To whom was the second set of twins born?

a) to a woman in Syracuse

b) to poor parents lodged in the same inn as Aegeon’s wife in Epidamnum

c) to Aegeon

d) none of these.

Ans: (b)

3. Why did Aegeon buy the twins?                                                                           scene from Comedy of Errors

a) To nurture them as his own children

b) To keep them as future attendants to his sons

c) To sell them for profit

d) To make them help him in his business.

Ans: (b)

4. What misfortune befell Aegeon’s family?

a) Their ship was caught in a storm and the sailors abandoned them.

b) They were imprisoned by the duke of Ephesus

c) They were robbed

d) Aegeon ran away abandoning his family.

Ans: (a)

Comedy of Errors:Passage III

“The incessant weeping……….. also were both in the city of Ephesus”

Answer the following questions:

  1. Describe the condition of the children during the storm.

Ans: The children wept continuously because they saw their mother crying. Aegeon’s younger son and the younger of the slaves were bound to the two ends of a spare mast while his elder son and the elder slave were bound likewise to another mast.

  1. How were they rescued?

Ans: Aegeon, along wth the two younger children, was picked up by a ship whose sailors knew him and they were brought safely to Syracuse. On the other hand, Aegeon’s wife and the older set of children were picked up by a boat of fishermen probably from Corinth.

  1. What did Aegeon’s youngest son do? Why did aegeon come to Ephesus? 3+2

Ans: When he turned eighteen, Aegeus’s youngest son persuaded his father to allow him and his slave to go in search of his lost mother and brother.

Aegeon came to Ephesus to search for his youngest son who had left home seven years earlier.

  1. What did the duke ask Aegeon to do? Why did he do so? Why did Aegeon feel helpless and hopeless? (1+3+1)

Ans: The duke gave Aegeon a day to beg or borrow the money to pay the fine instead of dooming him to instant death.

The duke of Ephesus was moved by Aegeon’s story. He pitied the unfortunate father, who had brought upon himself the great peril by his love for his lost son. The duke would have freely pardoned Aegeon and allowed him to go his way but he was bound by the laws of the state. So he gave aegeon a day’s time instead of passing sentence on him right away.

Aegeon felt helpless and hopeless as he did not know anyone in Ephesus and it was unlikely that a stranger would lend him a thousand marks.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. Why did the babes weep?

a) Because they were hungry

b) Because their mother wept.

c) Because they were lost

d) Because they were scared.

Ans: (b)

2. What happened to the ship?

a) It sank

b) It dashed into pieces hitting a rock

c) It sailed away.

d) It toppled over.

Ans: (b)

3. Who helped Aegeon?

a) The sailors of the sinking ship

b) The sailors of a ship from Ephesus

c) Sailors of a ship who knew him

d) The pirates of Corinth.

Ans: (c)

4. Why did Aegeon’s youngest son leave him?

a) To look for adventure

b) To go to different places for education

c) To trade

d) To look for his lost mother and brother.

Ans: (d)

Comedy of Errors:Passage  IV

“Aegeon’s sons besides….between masters and their servants.”

Answer the following questions:

  1. Why did Aegeon’s son pass for a merchant from Epidamnum?

Ans: Antipholus came to Ephesus the same day as Aegeon. As he was a merchant from Syracuse, he was in danger of receiving the death sentence. However, one of his friends told him about the plight of an old merchant from Syracuse (who was actually Antipholus’ father) and advised him to pass as a merchant from Epidamnum.

  1. Who was Duke Menaphon? How did the duke of Ephesus reward Antipholus? Why did Antipholus allow Dromio much liberty in speech? 1+2+2

Ans: Duke Menaphon, a famous warrior, was he uncle of the duke of Ephesus. Dromio and Antipholus had been sold to him.

The Duke of Ephesus rewarded Antipholus for saving his life by marrying him to Adriana, a rich lady of Ephesus.

Antipholus was a dull and melancholy man who diverted himself with the odd humorous and merry jests of Dromio. So he gave him much liberty in speech.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. How were Aegeon’s sons alike?

a) They looked alike

b) They looked alike and both were named Antipholus

c) They were named Dromio

d) They looked alike and spoke alike

Ans: (b)

  1. What did Antipholus’ friend advise him to do?

a) To go home

b) To hide himself

c) To approach the Duke for help

d) To pass for a merchant of Epidamnum

Ans: (d)

  1. How long had Antipholus of Ephesus lived there?

a)Ten years

b)Twenty years

c)Seven years

d)Fifty years

Ans: (b)

4.Who was Menaphon?

a) The Duke of Ephesus

b) The Duke’s uncle

c) Aegeon’s brother

d) Dromio’s father

Ans: (b)

Comedy of Errors: Passage V

“When Antipholus of Syracuse had sent Dromio….out of her groundless suspicion.”

scene from Comedy of Errors

  1. How did Dromio return earlier than Antipholus expected? What did Dromio tell Antipholus? Why did Antipholus lose his temper?

Ans: Dromio, the slave of Antipholus of Ephesus came to Antipholus of Syracuse who thought him to be his own slave. So, according to Antipholus of Syracuse he came back earlier than expected.

Dromio told Antipholus that his mistress had sent him to ask Antipholus to go for dinner as the chicken and pig were cooked. They would get cold if he delayed.

Antipholus of Syracuse had no wife. So he thought that Dromio was jesting. When this error continued on both sides, Antipholus lost his temper and beat Dromio.

  1. Why did Antipholus compare himself to a drop in the ocean?

Ans: Antipholus of Syracuse had ben searching for his mother and brother for seven years. He had not heard any news about them in any place he had landed. So he felt sorrowful. Being of a melancholy temperament, he thought about his solitary wanderings and felt that he had lost himself while searching for his mother and brother. He compared himself to a drop of water in the ocean which loses itself seeking for its fellow droplet.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. What did Antipholus think about after sending Dromio away?

a)His solitary wanderings in search of his mother and brother

b) His strange fate

c) Dromio’s behavior

d) His father’s sadness and misery

Ans: (a)

2 .What did Antipholus compare himself to?

a) To the rain

b) To a drop of water in the ocean

c) To the sea

d) To the wind

Ans: (b)

  1. What did Dromio tell Antipholus?

a) His mistress bade Antipholus come home for dinner

b) He was lost

c) He was hungry

d) Antipholus was ill

Ans: (a)

  1. What did Antipholus do when Dromio continued to tell him to go home for dinner?

a) He ran away

b) He chased Dromio away

c) He beat Dromio

d) He called the police

Ans: (c)

  1. Antipholous had given his slave:

a) a gold coin

b) some money

c) a ship

d) a necklace

Ans: (b)

  1. Adriana’s suspicions were:

a) true

b) false

c) real

d) proved correct.

Ans: (b)

Comedy of Errors: Passage VI

“Antipholus of Syracuse went to the inn….taken away to prison together.”

Answer the following questions:

  1. What strange thing happened to Antipholus of Syracuse at the inn?

Ans: As Antipholus of Syracuse was about to scold his slave for jesting with him earlier, his brother’s wife came up to him at the inn and mistook him for her husband. She began to reproach him for having stopped loving her. She reminded him of his love before their marriage and pleaded with him to accompany her to their home for dinner. Having never seen Adriana before, antipholus of Syracuse was astonished by her words and conduct.

  1. What happened while Antipholus was dining with Adriana?

Ans: While Antipholus of Syracuse was dining with Adriana, his brother (Adriana’s husband) returned to his house with Dromio. But the servants refused to admit him inside saying that their mistress was at dinner with her husband and had ordered them not to let anyone in.  After knocking at the door for a long time, Antipholus went away, angry and surprised at this strange behavior of his wife.

  1. What happened when Antipholus met the goldsmith?

Ans: When Antipholus of Syracuse left his brother’s house, he met a goldsmith. Antipholus of Ephesus had ordered a gold necklace for his wife. The goldsmith, mistaking Antipholus of Syracuse for his brother, gave him the necklace. When Antipholus said that it was not his necklace, the goldsmith left the chain with him and went away saying he had made the chain by Antipholus’ orders.

  1. Why was Antipholus of Ephesus taken to prison?

Ans: After the goldsmith left Antipholus of Syracuse with the gold chain, he was arrested for a sum of money. At that time, Antipholus of Ephesus was passing by the place the goldsmith was being arrested. The goldsmith called out to antipholus and demanded the money for the gold chain he had delivered. Antipholus of Ephesus refused to pay since he had not received any chain. So the officer led the goldsmith to tha prison and the goldsmith got Antipholus arrested as well for not paying him his due.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. Where was Dromio?

a) in the inn

b) In Adriana’s house

c) In the pub

d) In the Duke’s palace

Ans: (a)

  1. What was Antipholus’ reaction to Adriana’s accusation?

a) astonishment

b) sadness

c) happiness

d) anger

Ans: (a)

  1. Who claimed to be Dromio’s wife?

a) the sweeper

b) Luciana

c) Adriana

d) the cook-maid

Ans: (d)

  1. Why was Antipholus going to chide Dromio?

a )for his free jests

b )for losing the money

c) for running away

d) for fighting

ans: (a)

  1. What did Antipholus tell Adriana?

a) he loved her

b) he was not her husband

c) Dromio would forgive her

d) Dromio was her husband

Ans: (b)

  1. Why did the servants not open the door?

a) their mistress had ordered them not to admit guests

b) they had lost the keys

c) they were all sleeping

d) they were joking with Antipholus

Ans: (a)

Comedy of Errors: Passage -VII

“And now came out the lady Abbess herself…….making altogether a pleasant and diverting Comedy of Errors.”

Answer the following questions:

  1. What sort of a woman was the Abbess?

Ans. The lady Abbess was a grave and venerable lady. She would wisely judge what she saw. She would not hastily give up a man who had sought her protection. So she questioned Adriana closely to ascertain the cause of her husband’s supposed madness. Using her experience and wisdom she also showed Adriana that her jealousy was to blame for her husband’s disturbance.

  1. How did Adriana reprehend her husband?

Ans. Adriana made Antipholus’ supposed love for another woman the constant topic of her conversation. In bed she would not let him sleep by speaking of it. During meals she would not let him eat, in company she gave frequent hints of it and when they were alone she talked of nothing else. All her talk was about how vile it was for him to love any woman other than her, his wife.

  1. What did Adriana and Antipholus tell the Duke?

Ans. Adriana cried out to the Duke for justice saying that the abbess had refused to deliver up her lunatic husband to her care. While she was laying her case before the Duke, her real husband and Dromio, who had managed to free themselves, came to the Duke to demand justice. He complained that his wife had imprisoned him on false charges of lunacy.

  1. What happened when Aegeon saw Antipholus of Ephesus?

Ans. When Aegeon saw Antipholus of Ephesus, he mistook him for the son who had left him seven years back. He felt secure that his dear son would pay his ransom and began to speak to him in words of fatherly affection. He hoped joyfully that now he would soon be released. But Antipholus of Ephesus, having seen his father only as a baby, did not recognize him and denied all knowledge of him.

  1. What was the real identity of the abbess?

Ans. The lady abbess was the long lost wife of Aegeon and the fond mother of the two Antipholuses. When the fishermen took away the young Antipholus and Dromio, she entered a nunnery and by her wise and virtuous conduct was made the Abbess of the Abbey.

Answer the following questions choosing the correct option:

  1. What was the cause of Antipholus’ supposed madness?                             

a) He was in love with another woman

b) He did not sleep at night

c) He ate burnt meat

d) Adriana’s jealous ranting

Ans: (d)

  1. What did Adriana say when she realized her mistake?

a) She was not to blame

b) She blamed her sister

c) She was ill

d) The abbess had betrayed her to her own reproof

Ans: (d)

  1. Why did the abbess refuse to hand over Antipholus?

a) She decided to use gentle means to cure him

b) She did not like Adriana

c) She recognized her son

d) She felt Luciana was to blame

Ans: (a)

  1. Where was the melancholy procession going?

a) To the morgue

b) To the convent

c) To the execution ground near the convent

d) To the shipyard to deport Aegeon

Ans: (c)

  1. What change was found in Adriana?

a) She became very quiet

b) She never cherished unjust suspicions or was jealous of her husband

c) She always listened to her mother-in-law

d) She always smiled at her husband

Ans: (b)

  1. Who offered to pay the ransom for Aegeon?

a) Antipholus of Ephesus

b) Antipholus of Syracuse

c) The abbess

d) The Duke

Ans: (a)

(The passages are taken from “Comedy of Errors” in “Lambs Tales from Shakespeare”)







Author: monami mukherjee

Poet, Blogger, Undergrad Professor. Literature and film enthusiast. Excited about both critical and creative writing.

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