Appearances are the primary source of the comedy in The Comedy of Errors. Appearances can almost always be relied on to be false in this play – the twins (the Antipholi and the Dromios) are constantly being mistaken for each other, and though their actions and their temperaments differ, they are mostly identified by their appearance, which is a method prone to folly. It’s not only the twins’ physical appearance that matters in the play – Adriana worries that her beauty is waning, leading her husband to no longer care for her, and Egeon is convinced that his son won’t recognize him because he’s physically altered by his miserable state. The theme of appearances, however, extends to the appearance of a situation as well. The situation in Ephesus is so strange that it appears to be of supernatural origin. But what appears to be supernatural intervention is actually just confusion based on appearance (of the twins). Appearance is filtered through different means in the play, but it’s constantly a basis by which characters judge the people around them, and their own situations. The play reaches a resolution only when the characters realize that how things appear does not necessarily reflect on reality.
The characters in The Comedy of Errors use appearances as an excuse to not look harder for a more complex truth.