ABSTRACT

Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors is a farce of misrecognition between two sets of identical twins, which results in a major social disruption over one day in the ancient city of Ephesus. Years following the tempest that caused the traumatic fracture of their family, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse search the city for their long-lost twins. The citizens of Ephesus mistake the Syracusans for their Ephesian twins and, facing these fearsome moments of uncanny misrecognition, the Syracusans attempt to rationalize these misunderstandings as emanations of the notoriously occult Ephesian environment. Incapable of fully assimilating the original trauma of their separation from their twins, their sense of the uncanny in Ephesus is that trauma taking on its belated form. When the Syracusans rely on the invisible spiritual energy of Ephesus to account for their uncanny experiences, they demonstrate the imperceptibility of their trauma: searching, but unable to understand that in being recognized as their Ephesians counterparts, they are the ones that have been found. By evaluating how these characters identify their experiences of heightened confusion in terms of their bodies' interactions with the occult environment, we can understand the distinctly early modern way that Shakespeare writes about trauma, the environment, and selfhood.

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