The Reunion

Act 5 Scene 1 – Key Scene

In this scene, all the main characters come together and all the twins are seen together in the same space for the first time. It is an important moment for many reasons. Egeon is being led to his execution. Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus have escaped from being tied up and imprisoned in their own home. Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse have taken refuge in the priory. Antipholus of Ephesus sees his father for the first time since he was a small child. Emilia reveals her identity and everyone is reunited. The scene provides the climax of the play.

Take a look at an extract from this scene and watch it in performance here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    Enter the Abbess Emilia, with Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse
    Most mighty Duke, behold a man much wronged.
    I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me.
    One of these men is Genius to the other;
    And so of these, which is the natural man
    And which the spirit? Who deciphers them?

    Attendant spirit, thought to accompany a man on his life’s journey


    Dromio of Syracuse
    I, sir, am Dromio; command him away.
    Dromio of Ephesus
    I, sir, am Dromio; pray let me stay.
    Antipholus of Syracuse
    Egeon art thou not? Or else his ghost.
    Dromio of Syracuse
    O, my old master! — Who hath bound him here?
    Whoever bound him, I will loose his bonds,
    And gain a husband by his liberty. —
    Speak, old Egeon, if thou be’st the man
    That hadst a wife once called Emilia
    That bore thee at a burden two fair sons.
    O, if thou be’st the same Egeon, speak,
    And speak unto the same Emilia.

    Gave birth to, painfully

    Why, here begins his morning story right:
    These two Antipholus’, these two so like,
    And these two Dromios, one in semblance —
    Besides her urging of her wreck at sea —
    These are the parents to these children,
    Which accidentally are met together.

    The story he told me this morning is starting to make sense.

    Why do you think Shakespeare decided to reveal everyone all at once? Do you think it works and how does he avoid it becoming too complicated?

    Focusing on

    If I dream not, thou art Emilia.
    If thou art she, tell me where is that son
    That floated with thee on the fatal raft?
    By men of Epidamium, he and I
    And the twin Dromio, all were taken up;
    But by and by, rude fishermen of Corinth
    By force took Dromio and my son from them,
    And me they left with those of Epidamium.
    What then became of them, I cannot tell;
    I, to this fortune that you see me in.


    You can see what became of me.

    To Antipholus of Syracuse
    Antipholus, thou cam’st from Corinth first.
    Antipholus of Syracuse
    No, sir, not I; I came from Syracuse.

    Some of the characters in this scene speak a lot less than others. Why might this be? What can we read from their silence?

    Stay, stand apart; I know not which is which.
  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud, and think about the different ways you might read this scene. How would you keep the different characters clear to the audience, and how emotional would you make these reunions? Are there any words or lines that really stand out?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version? Is it how you imagined the scene when you were reading it?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of The Comedy of Errors at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the scene feel right to you?