Also known as E. Antipholus, he is the twin brother of Antipholus of Syracuse, son of Egeon and Emilia, husband of Adriana. E. Antipholus is a well-known, well-respected merchant in the city of Ephesus. He understands that his wife wants him to be home for dinner, but he nevertheless prioritizes business, such that she suspects him of cheating on her. When he is locked out of his home, as Adriana is dining with S. Antipholus, he grows angry and goes to dine at the Courtesan’s instead. He also asks Angelo to finish the chain he ordered for his wife, so that he can give it to the Courtesan instead. When Angelo seeks payment for the chain, which he gave to S. Antipholus, E. Antipholus refuses to pay for it and gets arrested. As the confusion has left E. Antipholus seeming somewhat maddened, Adriana hires Pinch to cure him of his illness— but E. Antipholus only strikes at Pinch in public, then tortures Pinch after escaping from bondage at his home. When E. Antipholus shows up outside the Priory, within which S. Antipholus is hiding, he explains everything that has happened to him that day, and Egeon mistakes him for his other son. Upon the arrival of S. Antipholus, the confusion is eventually cleared.
E. Antipholus can hardly be described as anything but a negative force in the play. He is demonstrably violent, and with little provocation; when he is truly upset by his confinement by Pinch and the others, the extent of his violent reaction actually does indicate that he may be mentally unstable, and not just as a result of the day’s occurrences. (Of course, the fact that The Comedy of Errors is so extensively farcical perhaps accounts for the cartoonish hair burning.) E. Antipholus does almost nothing to gain the sympathy of the reader in the course of the play, and only his final long speech, in which he rationally relates the day’s many errors, indicates that he has been suffering anything beyond a school-boyish frustration. An actor may endow E. Antipholus with decent emotions during this final scene, but his dialogue indicates little to no sentiment—he addresses not a single word to his long-lost brother before they exit together. E. Antipholus may perhaps be viewed as the epitome of the businessman, essentially purchasing, of all things, time away from his wife in the form of a gold chain.
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