The Comedy of Errors
How we cite our quotes:
There had she not been long but she became
A joyful mother of two goodly sons;
And, which was strange, the one so like the other
As could not be disdnguish'd but by names. (1.1.49)
This is a little foreshadowing – the boys are different only in name (which is tricky, because if they can’t tell you their true names, how are you supposed to tell them apart?). Anyway, much of the play’s misunderstanding will come about because the two pairs of twins share names. This contributes to the notion that their senses of identity are incomplete without their counterparts.
But here must end the story of my life;
And happy were I in my timely death,
Could all my travels warrant me they live. (1.1.137)
Egeon’s life is worthless without his family – he’d be happy to greet death if it meant his children lived. It seems that his family’s happiness and survival are central to his own identity and self-worth. Without knowing they’re OK, he might as well not live.
S. ANTIPHOLUS Farewell till then. I will go lose myself,
And wander up and down to view the city. (1.2.30)
S. Antipholus talks about losing himself in the city – it’s taken lightly as a figurative phrase, but it is literally what will and does happen. His identity will be lost from him as soon as he enters into the world of his brother.