Comedy of Errors

Depiction of Adriana vs. Wife in The Comedy of Errors and The Brothers Manaechmus College

The Comedy of Errors, written by William Shakespeare, is mirrored to a major extent by Plautus’s play The Brothers Manaechmus, both of which deal with the issue of separated twins who find themselves in the same town and are mistaken for each other. However, although Shakespeare draws his work off of the basic plot structure of Plautus’s ancient Roman text, it is evident that he takes liberties to further develop main characters and diverge from specific scenarios of the original comedy. Following close reading, a major disparity between the two evidently lies in the difference of depiction of the wives of the lost twins: Adriana in The Comedy of Errors and the Wife in The Brothers Manaechmus. Through analysis of the confused confrontation between ‘husband’ and wife, the intervening third-parties in the forms of the Abbess and the Old Man, and the verbal abuse they are subject to at times of their husband’s madness, it is evident that Shakespeare molds the three-dimensional and likeable character of Adriana from that of the Wife, depicting her as sympathetic, rather than shrewish.

In both Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and in Plautus’s The Brothers Menaechmus, a foreign twin (Antipholus of Syracuse/Menaechmus II) is...

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