The Brothers Menaechmus

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Plautus’ comedy The Brothers Menaechmus easily brings about laughs. The play is full of comedic motifs that keep the audience entertained. For example, in this comedy there is dirty and sexual humor, mistaken identities, asides, literal wordplay, and running gags all throughout but this paper will focus on a few key parts.

This comedy outdoes itself when it comes to dirty and sexual humor . For example, in the play when Menaechmus had just stolen his wife’s night gown he asks Peniculus to smell the skirt with which he replies “I’d rather smell the upper part of a woman’s garment; elsewhere the nose detects a somewhat unwashed odor.” This is funny because it shows the dirty side of male conversation when the two fuss with each other over what had been done.

The next motif that can be seen is mistaken identity in the scene when Cylindrus mistakes Sosicles’s identity for that of his twin brother’s Menaechmus. This motif is applied by having Sosicles and Cylindrus run into each other in the marketplace and he thinks Sosicles is Menaechmus. This scene is very funny because Sosicles and Messenio think Cylindrus is a nut job and the dialogue between them is insulting but humorous. Asides are common throughout this play as well. They provide the audience with some extra information that, in this particular play, tend to be humorous. For instance, right after the scene where Cylindrus mistakes the identity of Sosicles for that of Menaechmus he looks to the audience (aside) and states that it is quite normal for them to do that. That it is a game they play. This aside is funny because it shows that Cylindrus truly believes that he is talking to Menaechmus when he really isn’t. The entire circumstance is quite hysterical. The next motif that is effectively applied is literal wordplay . In the scene where Erotium and Sosicles first meet and she as well mistakes his identity for Menaechmus literal wordplay is used in a very smart-aleck way. When Sosicles attempts to...
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