The Comedy of Errors

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Comedy of Errors published in 2005.
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

Again: if any Syracusian born
Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
His goods confiscate to the duke’s dispose;
Unless a thousand marks be levied,
To quit the penalty and to ransom him.
Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
Therefore by law thou art condemn’d to die.

Related Characters: Duke Solinus (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.18-25
Explanation and Analysis:

Duke Solinus is explaining the legal situation which causes much of the tension in the play. The cities of Syracuse and Ephesus are feuding, so the Duke of Ephesus has decreed that if anyone from Syracuse (a Syracusian) comes to Ephesus, he will be executed unless he can pay a fee of 1000 marks. Solinus explains that since Aegeon only has 100 marks, he will be executed. This comedy begins in a dark place, as Aegeon is not only sentenced to die, but is also willing to die, saying that death will end his troubles.

This quote establishes the problem of Aegeon's execution, which the play will need to resolve. This problem is framed by commerce and exchange, introducing one of the play's major themes. Aegeon's execution can be prevented by an exchange of money. Merchants, money, misunderstandings, and confused exchanges make up most of the plot and the humor of The Comedy of Errors. This quote also leads well into Aegeon's response (below), which explains the familial split that sets the rest of the plot in motion.


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Comedy of Errors quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

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 distinguish’d but by names.
That very hour, and in the self-same inn,
A meaner woman was delivered
Of such a burden, male twins, both alike:
Those, for their parents were exceeding poor,
I bought, and brought up to attend my sons.

Related Characters: Aegeon (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.49-57
Explanation and Analysis:

Though he plans to execute Aegeon, the Duke is curious about Aegeon's story and reason for being in Ephesus. Aegeon explains that he made a fortune as a merchant, and that when a business partner died, he and his wife traveled to Epidamnum. In this quote, Aegeon describes how soon after his wife's arrival in Epidamnum she gave birth to children: "two goodly sons." He remarks that it was "strange," since the two sons (twins) looked so alike each other that they could only be told apart by their names. By a miraculous coincidence, at the same time that his wife was giving birth, a poor ("meaner') woman gave birth to another set of male twins, also extremely identical. Since Aegeon was wealthy, he purchased and took on the poor set of twins to be servants to his own sons.

This pair of identical births is the basis for much of the confusion and the humor in the play. Almost every single character in the play mistakes one brother for his twin, and hilarity ensues. Family is extremely important to Aegeon, and this "strange" set of twins and serving twins sets the stage for the other problem of the play: the family split. Much of the work of the play and its plot will be to reunite the family after the split that Aegeon describes below.

For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues,
We were encounter’d by a mighty rock;
Which being violently borne upon,
Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst;
So that, in this unjust divorce of us,
Fortune had left to both of us alike
What to delight in, what to sorrow for.

Related Characters: Aegeon (speaker)
Page Number: 1.1.10-106
Explanation and Analysis:

Aegeon says that with his wife, his sons, and his sons' servants, he boarded a ship from Epidamnum home to Syracuse. But, as he describes in the quote, before the ship could get far from Epidamnum, the ship began to sink. Aegeon and his wife tied themselves and their boys to the masts, floating and hoping to be saved, but the boat then crashed into "mighty rock." This crash caused the ship to slit in half, 'divorcing' the family. The family was rescued in two groups by separate boats traveling in different directions. Aegeon remarks on Fortune's role in this familial schism, suggesting that it left each trio equally thankful (for living) and sorrowful (for losing the other half of the family).

A key detail that enables the confusion and countless cases of mistaken identities in the play is that, in the chaos of the storm, each parent was uncertain which children they were with. Even Aegeon and his wife were unable to tell the babies apart without their names, and, in another huge coincidence, each parent believed they had the children with the same names. Thus Aegeon's son is named Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant is Dromio of Syracuse. The mother also believed she had Antipholus and Dromio, so the pair who live in Ephesus are Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus. Without this coincidence, many of the mistaken identities would have been cleared up instantly, and the play would have resolved itself almost immediately. Fate, chance, and coincidence are the ruling forces of Aegeon's life and the play itself.

After hearing this sad story, the Duke decides he will give Aegeon an extra 24 hours to come up with the 1000 marks, or else he will still have to be executed.

Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

He that commends me to mine own content
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water,
That in the ocean seeks another drop;
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself:
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 1.2.33-40
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse, along with his servant Dromio of Syracuse, has landed in Ephesus to look for his mother and brother. A local merchant tells Antipholus to be careful, and to pretend that he is not from Syracuse or else he'll have to pay the 1000 mark fine or be sentenced to death. Antipholus sends Dromio to the Centaur Inn with his money, planning to meet Dromio soon. The merchant wishes Antipholus happiness before leaving the stage. Left alone, Antipholus of Syracuse delivers this small soliloquy. 

In the soliloquy, Antipholus describes the difficulty of finding his lost family. He compares himself to "a drop of water" which "in the ocean seeks another drop." It is extremely difficult and unlikely for him to reunite with his family, making the eventual reunion all the more miraculous and rewarding. Antipholus of Syracuse cares about money, but we also see how important family is to him and the unhappiness and pain he suffers in searching for his lost brother and mother.

Note also that he expresses this loss of his others as a loss of self: "unhappy, lose myself." This gesture foreshadows the existential feelings that the brothers experience in the many cases of mistaken identity (which begin with the entrance of Dromio of Ephesus immediately after this soliloquy ends). When the characters meet with people who know them by name as entirely different people, they begin to question who they are. The confusions are so great that they begin to turn inward, till characters lose themselves. As Dromio of Syracuse profoundly and comedically asks later in the play, "Am I myself?"

Where is the gold I gave in charge to thee?

To me, sir? Why, you gave no gold to me.

Come on, sir knave, have done your foolishness,
And tell me how thou hast disposed thy charge.

My charge was but to fetch you from the mart
Home to your house, the Phoenix, sir, to dinner:
My mistress and her sister stays for you.

Now, as I am a Christian, answer me,
In what safe place you have bestow’d my money;
Or I shall break that merry sconce of yours,
That stands on tricks when I am undisposed:
Where is the thousand marks thou hadst of me?

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Ephesus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 1.2.71-82
Explanation and Analysis:

Dromio of Ephesus has entered the stage immediately after Antipholus of Syracuse finished his soliloquy. Dromio of Ephesus mistakes this Antipholus for his master, Antipholus of Ephesus, and tells Antipholus of Syracuse that it's time to come home dinner. Antipholus of Syracuse is confused, thinking that the Dromio he is speaking with is Dromio of Syracuse, the servant he just sent to the Centaur Inn with money. Thus at the beginning of the quote, Antipholus asks the wrong Dromio where is the gold that he gave to his own Dromio. Dromio of Ephesus is confused, and responds as such, since Antipholus of Syracuse only gave money to Dromio of Syracuse. The two continue to mistake each other for their twins, one asking for his money, the other asking his master to come home for dinner.

This interaction is the first of many, many confusing scenes of mistaken identities. Note that the social hierarchy dominates the interaction. In the dialogue that follows the quote, Dromio puns on "marks," saying he has received physical marks from beatings as opposed to marks as currency. Throughout the play, both master Antipholuses beat their (and their twin's) Dromio. The masters constantly blame the servants for the misunderstandings, and this scene shows early on how the dynamic will work in the play.

Upon my life, by some device or other
The villain is o’erraught of all my money.
They say this town is full of cozenage;
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind.
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
And many such-like liberties of sin:
If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.
I’ll to the Centaur, to go seek this slave:
I greatly fear my money is not safe.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 1.2.98-108
Explanation and Analysis:

After Dromio runs off stage to avoid further beating, Antipholus of Syracuse offers this soliloquy. He first suggests that Dromio is a villain who has run away with Antipholus's money. Antipholus of Syracuse then goes on to say that he has heard that Ephesus is home to "dark-working sorcerers" and "soul-killing witches." The supernatural explanation for the misunderstanding is humorous, and at the same time eerie. The dark undertones of Aegeon's possible execution are still fresh, and sorcery is the only way that Antipholus of Syracuse, who believes his situation to be hopeless, can understand the interaction he's just had with Dromio of Ephesus.

Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

A man is master of his liberty:
Time is their master; and when they see time,
They’ll go or come: if so, be patient, sister.

Why should their liberty than ours be more?

Because their business still lies out o’ door.

Related Characters: Adriana (speaker), Luciana (speaker)
Page Number: 2.1.7-11
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines are spoken at the house of Antipholus of Ephesus by his wife, Adriana, and her sister, Luciana. Adriana is upset since Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio of Ephesus have not returned yet for dinner (recall that Dromio of Ephesus accidentally told Antipholus of Syracuse to come home for dinner). Luciana tells Adriana to be patient, saying that "A man is master of his liberty." In other words, men are free, and can do what they want when they want, and spend their time how they please. Adriana protests, and suggests that the liberty and freedom of a woman should matter the same amount as that of a man, but her sister says men have business "out o' door," and are masters of women.

Thus we see another dynamic develop. As men are masters of their servants, so they are also masters over women. Adriana is not happy with her husband, since he is late, and is she unhappy with her subservient role in the marriage. Note that business and commerce is Luciana's primary reason for which men are the "masters."

Also note that the final lines of the interaction rhyme. In the dialogue that follows, Adriana and Luciana trade fast paced sentences, each speaking one line of iambic pentameter at a time. Trading single lines in this manner is a classic literary device called "Stichomythia."

When I desired him to come home to dinner,
He ask’d me for a thousand marks in gold:
‘’Tis dinner-time,’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he:
‘Your meat doth burn,’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he:
‘Will you come home?’ quoth I; ‘My gold!’ quoth he,
‘Where is the thousand marks I gave thee, villain?’
‘The pig,’ quoth I, ‘is burn’d;’ ‘My gold!’ quoth he:
‘My mistress, sir,’ quoth I; “Hang up thy mistress!
I know not thy mistress; out on thy mistress!’

Related Characters: Dromio of Ephesus (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 2.1.62-72
Explanation and Analysis:

After Luciana and Adriana continue to argue about men, power, and marriage—with Luciana arguing that men are masters of nature and their wives—Dromio of Ephesus enters. Remember that Dromio of Ephesus was sent by Adriana to summon Antipholus of Ephesus, but Dromio accidentally called on Antiopholus of Syracuse. Here Dromio of Ephesus tells his mistress Adriana about the confusing interaction he had with the man they believe to be her husband. Dromio humorously stages a mini-dialogue, giving both his voice and the responses from Antipholus of Syracuse. Thus on stage we see the first case of mistaken identity played out for a second time.

Dromio's impersonation of Antipholus consists mainly of one line: "My gold!" This emphasizes commerce and Antipholus's demand for his money, which will be transferred around and demanded again and again throughout the play. Finally, Antipholus speaks out against Dromio's "mistress," giving the impression that he is claiming not to know his own wife. This strange behavior makes Adriana believe that Antipholus of Ephesus is cheating on her (outlined below) and shows a potential for another family split, echoing the original division of Aegeon's family.

Dromio reports that he was beaten and that Antipholus spoke only of his gold, but Adriana sends him out to fetch Antipholus again, and also probably to receive more beatings.

I know his eye doth homage otherwhere;
Or else what lets it but he would be here?
Sister, you know he promised me a chain;
Would that alone, alone he would detain,
So he would keep fair quarter with his bed!
I see the jewel best enameled
Will lose his beauty; yet the gold bides still,
That others touch, and often touching will
Wear gold: and no man that hath a name,
By falsehood and corruption doth it shame.
Since that my beauty cannot please his eye,
I’ll weep what’s left away, and weeping die.

Related Characters: Adriana (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 2.1.109-120
Explanation and Analysis:

After Dromio of Ephesus leaves to seek Antipholus of Ephesus, Adriana tells Luciana her interpretation of Dromio's report. Despite warnings from Luciana not to be jealous, Adriana believes the behavior Dromio described indicates that Antipholus is cheating on her, and that "his eye doth homage otherwhere." Otherwise, the behavior and his absence from the home is inexplicable to her. Adriana goes on to mention the gold necklace that Antipholus promised to her. This chain will be another key object of commerce and exchange, as well as misunderstanding and fury for many of the play's characters.

To Adriana, the gold chain is a token of Antipholus's love, symbolizing beauty, goodness, and permanence. She remarks that even the "best enameled" jewels will lose their beauty (as humans do with age), while gold remains constant. It is incorrupt and everlasting. Adriana concludes that she, unlike gold, is apparently no longer beautiful enough to please Antipholus, dramatically resigning to weep and die. Despite her desire for more power in her marriage, Adriana is incredibly hurt by the idea of Antipholus's infidelity.

Note also that once Dromio leaves the stage, Luciana and Adriana revert back to rhyming.

Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown:
Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects;
I am not Adriana nor thy wife.
The time was once when thou unurged wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savour’d in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look’d, or touch’d, or carved to thee.
How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it,
That thou art then estranged from thyself?

Related Characters: Adriana (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.120-131
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse has reunited with Dromio of Syracuse, and found out that the money has in fact been delivered to the Centaur Inn. Confused by his previous interaction with Dromio of Ephesus and unsatisfied with Dromio of Syracuse's answers, Antipholus of Syracuse beats his servant. Dromio of Syracuse is confused by the beatings, since he has followed instructions perfectly and he himself has not yet been mistaken for his twin. Antipholus and Dromio are joking when Adriana enters and delivers this quote, the beginning of a long, passionate speech in which she chastises Antipholus for his rudeness and infidelity.

She begins by claiming "I am not Adriana nor thy wife," echoing the hurtful claims she believes her husband has made. She also echoes the out-of-body, existential experience of mistaken identity and self-questioning that Antipholus foreshadowed above with "lose myself." This same sentiment ends the quote, when Adriana asks the man she thinks is her husband, how is it that he became "estranged from thyself."

In the middle of this quote, Adriana recalls the love poetry that Antipholus of Ephesus must have spoken to her when they were happily married or in courtship. This part of her speech uses a common poetic feature, anaphora, in which the multiple lines begin with the same words (in this case, "That never"). In these poetic lines she says that her husband claimed to take no joy in the senses unless Adriana was the origin of the experience (unless she "spake, or look'd, or touch'd, or carved").

Fie, brother! How the world is changed with you!
When were you wont to use my sister thus?
She sent for you by Dromio home to dinner.

By Dromio?

By me?

By thee; and this thou didst return from him,
That he did buffet thee, and, in his blows,
Denied my house for his, me for his wife.

Did you converse, sir, with this gentlewoman?
What is the course and drift of your compact?
I, Sir? I never saw her till this time.

Villain, thou liest; for even her very words
Didst thou deliver to me on the mart.

I never spake with her in all my life.

How can she thus, then, call us by our names,
Unless it be by inspiration.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Syracuse (speaker), Adriana (speaker), Luciana (speaker)
Page Number: 2.2.163-178
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse are extremely confused by Adriana's long tirade, and so Antipholus explains that he has just landed in Ephesus. Luciana begins the dialogue in the quote by commenting how changed Antipholus seems, continuing to confuse him for his twin, Antipholus of Ephesus. Luciana asks him why he is treating her sister this way, pretending he doesn't know her when Dromio was sent to bring Antipholus home for dinner. Thus the comedic response of Antipholus and Dromio in turn: "By Dromio?" "By me?"

Adriana confirms that she sent Dromio and that he returned from Antipholus having been beaten and denied. Dromio of Syracuse respond in confusion, since he has never before met Adriana, but Antipholus calls him a liar, having interacted with (beaten) Dromio of Ephesus. Antipholus concludes by asking how else could Adriana know Dromio's name, unless by divine inspiration or witchcraft. This scene continues the building sequence of coincidences and mistaken identities. Like with most of the issues, the servants (Dromios) take the blame for the miscommunications and problems. Antipholus of Syracuse is uncertain what to do and if he is dreaming or not, and he ultimately decides to follow Adriana and pretend to be her husband in order to find out more information.

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Are you, there, wife? You might have come before.

Your wife, sir knave! Go get you from the door.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Ephesus (speaker), Adriana (speaker)
Page Number: 3.1.96-97
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse is pretending to be Adriana's husband, and is inside the house. Dromio of Syracuse is guarding the door so that the family can enjoy dinner. Dromio of Ephesus has finally found the right Antipholus, and the two have finally come home for dinner. But when Dromio of Ephesus knocks on the door, Dromio of Syracuse denies him entrance from the other side. This marks the first time that twins have interacted on stage. The moment is filled with dramatic irony (meaning we know something the characters don't), since if they could only see each other during the scene they'd recognize that they were twins. When Dromio of Syracuse announces his name from behind the door, Dromio of Ephesus believes that his identity has been stolen.

In this quote, Antipholus of Ephesus calls up to his wife Adriana, asking if she's there and why she hasn't come before. But since Adriana believes her husband is inside, she dismisses Antipholus of Ephesus for a "knave" (a depraved or foolish person), and sends him away. Here, Adriana does exactly what she chided Antipholus of Syracuse for doing: denying to know her spouse. Antipholus of Ephesus responds violently, wanting to break down the door, but is advised not to. Much of the drama and humor of this scene is derived from how close the twins get to meeting without actually recognizing each other. As the play continues, the delay of such a recognition becomes more and more absurd.

Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

And may it be that you have quite forgot
A husband’s office? Shall, Antipholus,
Even in the spring of love, thy love-springs rot?
Shall love, in building, grow so ruinous?
If you did wed my sister for her wealth,
Then for her wealth’s sake use her with more kindness:
Or if you like elsewhere, do it by stealth;
Muffle your false love with some show of blindness:
Let not my sister read it in your eye.

Related Characters: Luciana (speaker), Antipholus of Syracuse
Page Number: 3.2.1-11
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse are talking, while Luciana still believes him to be Antipholus of Ephesus. She chides him for forgetting his duties ("office") as a husband, first for falling out of love with his wife, and second for being so overt about it. She describes his love as rotting, and ruinous, suggesting that wealth was the only reason that Antipholus married Adriana in the first place. If this is the case, Luciana asserts, then Antipholus ought to be kind to her for the same reason: money. Luciana believes that if Antipholus loves someone else, he should hide it and use stealth, here using the figurative language of eyes and blindness to emphasize her point. As the dialogue continues, Antipholus of Syracuse will deny being married to Adriana, and go on profess his love to Luciana herself. Note also that Luciana speaks in rhymes (though not couplets).

Are you a god? Would you create me new?
Transform me, then, and to your power I’ll yield.
But if that I am I, then well I know
Your weeping sister is no wife of mine,
Nor to her bed no homage do I owe:
Far more, far more to you do I decline.
O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister flood of tears:
Sing, siren, for thyself, and I will dote.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.40-49
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse begins by asking Luciana if she is a god with the power to transform him. He uses this dramatic language to convey the impossibility and the emotional weight of her suggestion that he pretend to be someone he isn't. He continues by saying that if it is the case that he is himself (if that I am I), then he is certain that Adriana is not his wife. Here Antipholus uses rhetorical language (if / then statements) common in love poetry, to turn his focus from Luciana's suggestion to his own courtship of her and the beginning of a new argument. He continues, saying that he owes nothing to Adriana, and in fact is "far more, far more" interested in Luciana herself. Calling her a mermaid and a siren, he asks her to make her own case rather than telling him to love Adriana.

This comedic moment seems absurd and wrong to Luciana, who still believes that Antipholus of Syracuse is the Antipholus of Ephesus that is married to her sister. The courtship of Luciana seems natural, as Shakespearean comedies produce as many marriages as possible—but though Luciana has expressed the opinion that wives should be subservient, she has also expressed a hesitancy to get married. The end of the play will imply that Antipholus of Syracuse will marry Luciana, but we do not see the marriage take place on stage and are not certain that it will occur.

Why, how now, Dromio! Where runn’st thou so fast?

Do you know me, sir? Am I Dromio? Am I your man? Am I myself?

Thou art Dromio, thou art my man, thou art thyself.

I am an ass, I am a woman’s man, and besides myself.

What woman’s man? And how besides thyself?

Marry, sir, besides myself, I am due to a woman; one that claims me, one that haunts me, one that will have me.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Dromio of Syracuse (speaker)
Page Number: 3.2.77-89
Explanation and Analysis:

Upset by Antipholus of Syracuse's sudden declaration of love, Luciana has run to get her sister. As she exits, Dromio of Syracuse runs onto the stage. Antipholus stops him and asks where he's running so quickly. Here Dromio responds with the comedic line that also speaks to the eerie feeling of being out of place: "Am I Dromio? Am I your man? Am I myself?" He is so confused by the way others are treating him that he begins to question if he really is himself. Antipholus assures him that he is himself, before Dromio claims to be an "ass" and a "woman's man." Dromio proceeds to describe an interaction with the kitchen woman named Nell, whom Dromio of Ephesus is engaged to. Nell mistook Dromio of Syracuse for her fiancee, instigating the strange, self-questioning hysteria in Dromio of Syracuse. He goes on describes Nell as extremely fat, making an elaborate joke that she is the size of a globe, naming different parts of her body with countries around the world (also note the pun on Shakespeare's theatre, named the Globe). This scene is played for comedy, but it also causes Antipholus to believe that there are "none but witches" in Ephesus, using magic and witchcraft to explain what are actually a series of coincidences and human errors. He decides to leave Ephesus as soon as possible, and sends Dromio to find out when the soonest departing ship leaves.

Master Antipholus,—

Ay, that’s my name.

I know it well, sir:—lo, here is the chain.
I thought to have ta’en you at the Porpentine:
The chain unfinish’d made me stay thus long.

What is your will that I shall do with this?

What please yourself, sir: I have made it for you.

Made it for me, sir! I bespoke it not.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Angelo (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 3.2.182-189
Explanation and Analysis:

After Dromio leaves to find out when the next ship leaves, Angelo enters with the golden necklace that Antipholus of Ephesus promised Adriana. Angelo confuses Antipholus of Syracuse for his twin, and gives the chain to the wrong person. Antipholus denies requesting the chain, but eventually accepts it, confused by the interaction. This exchange begins the series of botched exchanges and trades with the wrong people that will continue throughout the play. Soon Antipholus of Ephesus will deny having received the necklace, since he truly has not, and frustration will build. This series of commercial mistakes will also involve a Merchant, who demands payment from Angelo. Angelo will demand money for the chain, but struggle to receive it having given it to the wrong person.

Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

I answer you! What should I answer you?

The money that you owe me for the chain.

I owe you none till I receive the chain.

You know I gave it you half an hour since.

You gave me none: you wrong me much to say so.

You wrong me more, sir, in denying it:
Consider how it stands upon my credit.

Well, officer, arrest him at my suit.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Ephesus (speaker), Angelo (speaker), Merchant (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 4.1.62-69
Explanation and Analysis:

This scene begins with Angelo and a Merchant discussing the money that one owes the other. Angelo explains that he will pay the Merchant as soon as he receives payment for the Gold Necklace. When Antipholus of Ephesus enters, Angelo gives him the bill for the chain, saying he needs the money immediately so that he can pay the Merchant. Antipholus says that his money at home, and invites Angelo to come deliver the chain and receive payment there. This offer confuses Angelo, since he has already given the chain to Antipholus of Syracuse. The two men become confused and irate, leading up to the dialogue in the quote.

Angelo demands the money, but Antipholus of Ephesus demands the chain, denying that he ever received it. They both claim to be wronged by the other, and eventually the Merchant, wanting his money, intervenes by having an Officer arrest Antipholus. This commercial debate is ridiculous given the confusion of both parties, making the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus one of the most comedic errors of the play.

What ship of Epidamnum stays for me?

A ship you sent me to, to hire waftage.

Thou drunken slave, I sent thee for a rope,
And told thee to what purpose and what end.

You sent me for a rope’s end as soon:
You sent me to the bay, sir, for a bark.

I will debate this matter at more leisure,
And teach your ears to list me with more heed.
To Adriana, villain, hie thee straight:
Give her this key, and tell her, in the desk
That’s cover’d o’er with Turkish tapestry
There is a purse of ducats; let her send it:
Tell her I am arrested in the street,
And that shall bail me: hie thee, slave, be gone!

Related Characters: Antipholus of Ephesus (speaker), Dromio of Syracuse (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 4.1.96-109
Explanation and Analysis:

As Antipholus of Ephesus is being arrested, Dromio of Syracuse returns with news about departing ships. He tells Antipholus, whom he mistakes for his master, that there is a ship of Epidamnum waiting in the harbor. Antipholus begins the dialogue in the quote by asking, confusedly, what ship is waiting for him. Dromio responds that it's the ship that he was sent to hire. But Antipholus of Ephesus has sent Dromio of Ephesus to buy a rope, and of course makes the servant the scapegoat for the error, blaming Dromio of Syracuse and yelling at him. He threatens his servant, implying that he will beat him until he knows how to listen better, than orders Dromio to go back to Adriana and get bail money from a desk. Thus another financial object, this time money itself, is interjected into the system of mistaken exchanges and errors.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

Thou art, as you are all, a sorceress:
I conjure thee to leave me and be gone.

Give me the ring of mine you had at dinner,
Or, for my diamond, the chain you promised,
And I’ll be gone, sir, and not trouble you.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Courtesan (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 4.3.68-72
Explanation and Analysis:

Antipholus of Syracuse is convinced that devils, sorcerers, and witches inhabit Ephesus and are the cause of all of the confusion. A Courtesan enters the stage and calls Antipholus by name, causing him to shout at her and call her Satan. The Courtesan requests of Antipholus the chain, which he has, in exchange for a diamond ring. Apparently, Antipholus of Ephesus purchased the gold necklace with the intention of trading it with the Courtesan for the diamond ring. The exchanges have all gotten mixed up due to the countless errors and mistakes, so the Courtesan believes that Antipholus has stolen her ring. This detail is especially confusing, as Adriana mentioned that she was promised a chain, not a ring. After Antipholus and Dromio leave, the Courtesan concludes that they are insane, and goes to tell Adriana that her husband has stolen the ring.

Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

Alas, I sent you money to redeem you,
By Dromio here, who came in haste for it.

Money by me! Heart and good-will you might;
But surely, master, not a rag of money.

Went’st not thou to her for a purse of ducats?

He came to me, and I deliver’d it.

And I am witness with her that she did.

God and the rope-maker bear me witness
That I was sent for nothing but a rope!

Related Characters: Antipholus of Ephesus (speaker), Dromio of Ephesus (speaker), Adriana (speaker), Luciana (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 4.4.88-96
Explanation and Analysis:

Dromio of Ephesus returns to the arrested Antipholus of Ephesus with the rope that was requested for Adriana. However, since that command, Antipholus has told Dromio of Syracuse to get the bail money. Thus when Dromio of Ephesus shows up with only a rope, Antipholus is furious. Adriana and Luciana then enter, along with the Courtesan. They think that Antipholus is mad, and argue about if Antipholus and Adriana ate dinner together or not. Here, Adriana says that she sent bail money with Dromio. She has, of course, sent it with the other Dromio, so Dromio of Ephesus begins to look insane, too, since he claims only to have been sent for a rope. The confusion in this scene is especially knotted and humorous since Antipholus of Ephesus has given commands to both Dromios. Every character is confused, so the mistakes and false identities continue in their absurdities.

In this scene Adriana pays Antipholus's bail and decides to shut him and Dromio up inside, but moments after their exit, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse enter the stage. At this sight, Adriana is convinced that Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus have escaped. Now, even people are exchanged as commodities, and of course the exchange of persons is also confounded and filled with error. Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse escape and get ready to leave Ephesus. 

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

You have done wrong to this my honest friend;
Who, but for staying on our controversy,
Had hoisted sail and put to sea to-day:
This chain you had of me; can you deny it?

I think I had; I never did deny it.

Yes, that you did, sir, and forswore it too.

Who heard me to deny it or forswear it?

These ears of mine, thou know’st, did hear thee.

Related Characters: Antipholus of Syracuse (speaker), Angelo (speaker), Merchant (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Gold Necklace, Bail Money, and Diamond Ring
Page Number: 5.1.19-26
Explanation and Analysis:
As Angelo and the Merchant discuss their financial situation, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse enter while Antipholus is wearing the gold necklace. Angelo and the Merchant ask why he denied receiving the chain if he is wearing it, mistaking him for Antipholus of Ephesus. Comedically, Antipholus doesn't deny receiving the chain, instead denying that he ever denied receiving it. The Merchant and Angelo claim to have heard Antipholus swear denial, which angers him. Honor is extremely important to Antipholus, and despite the humorous nature of the dozens of errors and coincidences, he is willing to duel to protect his word. Before a fight can begin, Adriana, Luciana, and the Courtesan enter and tell Angelo and the Merchant that Antipholus and Dromio are mad. The pair then flees to a nearby abbey.

Hath not else his eye
Stray’d his affection in unlawful love?
A sin prevailing much in youthful men,
Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.
Which of these sorrows is he subject to?

To none of these, except it be the last;
Namely, some love that drew him oft from home.

You should for that have reprehended him.

Why, so I did.

Ay, but not rough enough.

As roughly as my modesty would let me.

Haply, in private.

And in assemblies too.
The consequence is, then, thy jealous fits
Have scared thy husband from the use of wits.

Related Characters: Adriana (speaker), Aemilia (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.50-89
Explanation and Analysis:

After Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse run into the abbey, the Abbess comes out to investigate. Here the Abbess (soon revealed to be Aemilia, Aegeon's wife) asks Adriana what is wrong with Antipholus. Before the quote begins, she asks if he has lost wealth or experienced the death of a friend, before asking if he has been unfaithful and "strayed his affection in unlawful love." Returning to the question of a married man's liberty, the Abbess remarks on the common sin of young men giving their eyes the liberty to gaze too much at other women. When Adriana admits that she believes Antipholus has been unfaithful, the Abbess says that Adriana should have scolded him more. When Adriana reveals through quick back and forth (they complete each other's lines of iambic pentameter) that she did reprehend her husband, and often, the Abbess ultimately decides that her jealous nagging was the cause of her husband's infidelity. Note here the play's continued placement of the subservient class (servants and, in this case, women) into the scapegoat role. As a man, Antipholus is supposedly master of nature, women, and his servants, but at the same time, the blame for his own actions and (presumed) infidelity falls on his wife, not himself. Ultimately, the Abbess refuses to let anyone into the abbey, saying that she will bring Antipholus and Dromio back from madness.

I am sure you both of you remember me.

Ourselves we do remember, sir, by you;
For lately we were bound, as you are now.
You are not Pinch’s patient, are you, sir?

Why look you so strange on me? You know me well.

I never saw you in my life till now.

O, grief hath changed me since you saw me last,
And careful hours with time’s deformed hand
Have written strange defeatures in my face:
But tell me yet, dost thou not know my voice?


Dromio, nor thou?

No, trust me, sir, nor I.

I am sure thou dost.

Related Characters: Aegeon (speaker), Antipholus of Ephesus (speaker), Dromio of Ephesus (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.300-314
Explanation and Analysis:

Most of the characters are on stage at this point near the end of the play; the Duke has been brought in to try and resolve the issue. Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus have escaped from Adriana's house, causing everyone to think that they have just escaped from the abbey. Aegeon has been brought on with the Duke in the last hope of coming up with payment to stop his execution, and he has spoken a brief aside indicating that he recognizes Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus, believing them to be his son and son's servant from Syracuse. Which, of course, they aren't.

But in all this confusion, Antipholus of Ephesus gains some clarity of his own: opposing the previous states of confusion and self-doubt, he says they do remember themselves and who they are, making a joke that they were just bound in Adriana's home as Aegeon is now imprisoned. When the sons continue to say they don't recognize him, Aegeon begins to believe that grief and time have changed him, textually writing new features on his face in the time since he has last seen Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse. He tries to appeal to another sense, asking if they remember his voice, but they still do not.

At this moment the tension and dramatic irony peak. Aegeon is looking for his long lost son, and has met him, but even now he confuses this lost son for the son he raised and has only been apart from for a few years. While every other character in the play has assumed that Antipholus of Ephesus is himself (other than Dromio of Syracuse), Aegeon mistakes him for Antipholus of Syracuse. Mistaken identity and errors cross even family lines, and the plots cannot be resolved until both pairs of twins are physically on the stage at the same time.

I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me.

One of these men is Genius to the other;
And so of these, which is the natural man,
And which the spirit? Who deciphers them?

Related Characters: Duke Solinus (speaker), Adriana (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.342-345
Explanation and Analysis:

Finally, the Abbess Brings Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse onto stage, and both sets of twins are in the same place at once. After the Abbess's announcement, Adriana speaks this quote as the first line from the stunned crowd. She cannot tell if her eyes deceive her or not since, she is so confused by what she sees. Likewise, the Duke resorts to a supernatural explanation, suggesting that one image must be the real Antipholus and the other must be Antipholus's spirit ("Genius"). Note that his call to "decipher them" is an extremely textual image, calling attention to the deciphering that readers (and playgoers) must do in trying to keep track of all of the exchanges and errors.

With everyone on stage at once, the comedy can close; all it's problems are resolved. The Abbess reveals herself to be Aemilia, Aegeon's wife, and the entire family is reunited. As the mistaken identities are cleared up, the broken circuit of exchange is restored, and the gold necklace, bail money, and diamond ring all end up in the right places. Antipholus of Syracuse tells Luciana he is still interested in pursing her, and the Duke, so moved by the events, waives the 1000 mark fee and spares Aegeon's life. True identities are restored along with order, functioning commerce, and the original family whose split instigated the play.

We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.

Related Characters: Dromio of Ephesus (speaker)
Page Number: 5.1.439-441
Explanation and Analysis:

These are the final lines of the play, after all of the resolutions; the only characters remaining on stage are Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus, who gets the last word of the show. Dromio of Syracuse remarks that the woman who claimed to be his wife (Nell) will now become his sister-in-law, and the two brothers observe the oddity of meeting their mirror-like twin. They decide to follow the rest of the characters offstage into the abbey, not one by one, but "hand in hand" as brothers, like they came into the world, equal to each other, though they are still social inferiors to their masters. Their small family, too, has been reunited.

Note also that Dromio of Ephesus is not yet married to Nell, as Antipholus of Syracuse is not yet married to Luciana. These marriages are implied by the comedy, which usually ends in marriage, but are not staged nor certain. Instead, this play stages the restoration of two fractured marriages, first the idealized marriage between Aegeon and Aemilia, who have been apart for decades, and second the marriage between Adriana and Antipholus of Ephesus, which has suffered under Fate's coincidences since Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse first landed in Ephesus.

No matches.