Also known as S. Antipholus, he is the twin brother of Antipholus of Ephesus, son of Egeon and Emilia. At the age of eighteen, S. Antipholus goes off to search for his long-lost brother in the company of his servant, Dromio of Syracuse. In Ephesus, S. Antipholus does some business with a Merchant and is then met by E. Dromio, who bids him return ‘‘home’’ to dine with Adriana. S. Antipholus is angered by what seems like a jest carried out by S. Dromio, but he later meets up with his true servant and is reassured. When Adriana finds S. Antipholus in the marketplace, he eventually agrees to dine with her. Later, when Luciana counsels him to be sweeter with Adriana, S. Antipholus finds himself falling in love with Luciana. Nevertheless, the strange goings-on lead him to ask S. Dromio to wait at the harbor and to find him in the marketplace if a ship is leaving. When the Courtesan later addresses him, he becomes convinced that the town is inhabited by witches, and he runs off with S. Dromio. At length, the two seek refuge in the Priory; when they emerge in the company of Emilia, S. Antipholus’s mother, the day’s confusion is cleared.
While the plot generally revolves around the actions of S. Antipholus—as framed by the plight of his father, Egeon—few commentators would contend that his character merits the most discussion. In general, S. Antipholus simply serves as a vessel of amazement with respect to the strange reception he gets in Ephesus, where everyone knows him by name and has some unexplained concern for him. That is, not counting his initial interaction with a Merchant, S. Antipholus rarely causes any of the play’s action himself; rather, things happen to him, or people address him, and he somewhat passively responds to the situation or person in question. The drama surrounding E. Antipholus’s being locked out of his house, which serves as the foundation for the remainder of the play’s confusion, comes about because S. Antipholus has allowed himself to be swept into the situation by Adriana—and he allows this knowing full well that some ‘‘error’’ has come about. Indeed, S. Antipholus specifically notes that he feels as if he is sleeping and dreaming, suggesting a state of utter passivity and an absence of control.
Beyond the plot in and of itself, and regardless of S. Antipholus’s lack of agency, the relationship between his quest for his long-lost brother and his understanding of his identity form the thematic core of the play. This theme is established early on, not only through Egeon’s story and the audience’s understanding of the bare facts of the situation, but also through S. Antipholus’s own words. In his first scene, after he has dismissed S. Dromio and the Merchant exits—leaving S. Antipholus alone on the stage in the first of several such instances—he compares himself, in his search for his brother, to a drop in an ocean in search of another drop. A drop in an ocean, of course, is not truly an individual drop of water. Indeed, in the course of eleven lines in this scene, in reference to his travels, he twice states, ‘‘I … lose myself.’’ Thus, S. Antipholus can be understood to lack a feeling of wholeness, and he believes he will only find this wholeness in finding his lost twin brother.
Shakespeare for Students:Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare’s Plays & Poetry, Second Edition, Volume 1, authored by Anne Marie Hacht & Cynthia Burnstein, published by Thomson-Gale, 2007