Outside the same house, Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse are talking. Luciana scolds him for losing his love for Adriana and not respecting their marriage. She tells him to at least pretend to be faithful to her and “muffle your false love with some show of blindness,” rather than being so obvious about his infidelity. She tells him that it is “double wrong” to be both unfaithful and obvious about it.
Luciana thinks that Antipholus is his twin, and scolds him for not respecting his marriage to her sister. In her mind, it would be better to maintain a false outward appearance of fidelity, even if he is cheating.
Antipholus is confused, and says he does not know who Luciana is. He asks why she is trying to get him to pretend to be someone he is not, and tells her “your weeping sister is no wife of mine.” He tells her not to try to persuade him to love her sister, Adriana, but rather to plead her own case, as he is in love with her. Luciana is shocked and tells him, “gaze where you should,” that is, on Adriana.
Antipholus is confused by Luciana’s mistaken conception of his identity, and he reacts against her encouragement to pretend to be someone he isn’t. His expression of love for Luciana is all the more shocking to her because she thinks he is his twin and married to Adriana, her sister.
Luciana tells Antipholus to focus his love on her sister, but he says he loves her sister’s sister (i.e. her) instead. Luciana runs off to get Adriana, and Dromio of Syracuse comes out of the house. He asks whether he is himself, and then says that a woman inside the house “claims” him as her fiancé.
Luciana continues to think that Antipholus is betraying his wife in expressing his love for her. Dromio (comically) questions his own identity as a result of how other people have been addressing and treating him.
He describes the woman, “the kitchen-wench,” as a fat woman “all grease,” and so dirty that not even “Noah’s flood” could wash her clean. Her name is Nell, and Dromio says that she is “spherical” like a globe. He says, “I could find out countries in her,” and he and Antipholus joke about where the various countries are on her. Ireland, for example, is “in her buttocks,” as Dromio found it “by the bogs.”
Dromio and Antipholus make fun of Nell’s physical appearance. Nell’s comic desire for Dromio forms a low counterpoint to the more idealistic marital relationship between Aegeon and Aemilia.
Dromio continues to make fun of Nell, describing her hideous appearance. He says that Nell called him by his name and claimed that he was “assured to her.” He calls Nell a witch and says he ran away from her. Antipholus tells Dromio to go see if he can find out about any ships leaving the town tonight, as he doesn’t want to spend one more night in the strange city. Dromio leaves as ordered.
Dromio again makes fun of Nell’s appearance, and tells Antipholus about his confusion that has resulted from Nell’s apparently knowing him. In order to explain the strange coincidental behavior of Nell, Dromio again resorts to the supernatural, calling Nell a witch.
Antipholus reflects that “there’s none but witches do inhabit here,” including Adriana. However, he admits that he loves Luciana and says she has almost enchanted him with her “mermaid’s song.” Angelo enters and gives Antipholus the necklace that Antipholus of Ephesus had ordered. Antipholus of Syracuse is confused, but accepts the chain. Angelo leaves, and Antipholus wonders what is going on. He plans to go to the market to await Dromio’s report about any departing ships.
Antipholus also uses witches and magic to explain what is actually the result of confused identities and human errors. Angelo mistakenly gives the necklace to the wrong Antipholus, starting the chain of botched exchanges and trades that will create most of the problems in the play’s plot.