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The Comedy of Errors

by William Shakespeare

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In The Comedy of Errors, what was the confusion over the gold chain?

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The confusion over the gold chain in Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors is, like the majority of the conflict in the play, the result of a case of mistaken identity.

Antipholus of Ephesus orders the chain to be made as a gift for Adriana. However, the goldsmith Angelo mistakenly delivers the chain to Antipholus of Syracuse, believing him to be the customer, and says he will collect his payment later.

Of course, when he later approaches the correct Antipholus for payment, Antipholus of Ephesus claims (honestly) that he never received the necklace at all. But Angelo does not know that there's a pair of identical twins both by the name of Antipholus running around the city and believes Antipholus of Ephesus is trying to cheat him out of paying. Antipholus of Ephesus is then arrested.

Angelo then runs into Antipholus of Syracuse out and about (when he believes him to be his brother and that he should be locked up) and wearing the very necklace Antipholus of Ephesus claimed to have no knowledge of.

The confusion is not resolved until the twins are reunited, and it becomes clear that each had been repeatedly mistaken for the other.

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The golden chain serves as a major source of confusion throughout the play. Antipholus of Ephesus commissions a golden chain to be made by Angelo, a goldsmith. He instructs Angelo to meet him at the Porpentine where he plans to give it to the courtesan. However, on his way to the Porpentine, Angelo runs into Antipholus of Syracuse and, believing he is the Antipholus he is looking for, gives him the chain instead. Not only does he give the chain to the wrong Antipholus, but he also does not accept payment for it right away, saying he will come to him later that night to collect the money.

When Angelo comes to collect his money, he is accompanied by a merchant to whom he himself owes money. Of course, he tries to collect money from Antipholus of Ephesus who, of course, denies he has received the chain. Embarrassed and frustrated, Angelo has him arrested for refusing to pay.

When we see Angelo again, he is apologizing to the merchant to whom he owes money and he happens upon Antipholus of Syracuse who is wearing the chain. This sends Angelo into a rage against Antipholus who escapes into the priory. The ensuing reunion of the twins untwists the confusion of the chain for all in the final scene.


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