The Comedy of Errors Act 1, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis
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Elsewhere in Ephesus, Aegeon’s son, Antipholus, is talking to a merchant. The merchant warns him to pretend not to be from Syracuse, or else face a 1000 mark fine or death. Antipholus sends his servant, Dromio, with his money to the Centaur Inn, where they are staying, and says that he will meet him there soon. Antipholus invites the merchant to dine with him, but the merchant says that he has to meet with “certain merchants,” he hopes to do business with.
Another merchant enters the play, and informs Antipholus of Solinus’ law involving the 1000 mark fine. Antipholus is concerned about his money, so he sends Dromio ahead to the inn. The merchant has business to deal with, further establishing the economic background of the world of the play.
The merchant wishes for Antipholus to be happy, and then leaves. Antipholus says that he cannot be happy, as he is seeking his mother and brother but cannot seem to find them. Just then, the servant of Antipholus’ lost brother, Dromio of Ephesus, arrives and tells Antipholus (whom he mistakes for his identical twin) to come home to dinner, as his wife is hungry and tired of waiting for him. Antipholus is confused and asks where his money is.
Despite Antipholus’ concern for his money, his family is the most important thing in his life, as he cannot be happy without his mother and brother. He thinks that Dromio of Ephesus is his Dromio of Syracuse, the first of the play’s many confusions of identity.
Dromio of Ephesus is confused by the question and again tells Antipholus to come home for dinner, or else his wife will be mad. He says that Antipholus gave him no gold. Antipholus angrily asks where his thousand marks are, and Dromio replies that he has some marks from him (i.e. from being hit) and some from his wife, but not a thousand. He jokes that Antipholus would not want him to give him a thousand marks (i.e. a thousand blows or strikes).
Dromio and Ephesus both think the other is his identical twin. Dromio tries to get Antipholus to come home by mentioning his wife. Antipholus, though, is only concerned with his money.
Frustrated, Antipholus hits Dromio, who then runs off. Antipholus says that he has heard of “dark-working sorcerers” and “soul-killing witches” in Ephesus. He guesses that some such magician is controlling Dromio and making him act so strangely. He leaves to go to the Centaur Inn and find Dromio (who he still thinks is his own Dromio of Syracuse).
Antipholus blames Dromio for their misunderstanding, and beats him (which seems to be a standard way for a master to treat a servant in the play). He still thinks that Dromio of Ephesus is Dromio of Syracuse, and resorts to sorcerers and witches to explain Dromio’s behavior.