Antipholus of Syracuse runs into Dromio of Syracuse in the street. Antipholus mentions that all sorts of people in Ephesus act as if they know him. He says that sorcerers must inhabit the city. Dromio gives Antipholus the gold from Adriana, to his confusion. Dromio asks how Antipholus got out of prison. Antipholus tells him to stop fooling around and asks if there are any ships leaving Ephesus soon.
Once again, Antipholus uses the supernatural as an easy way to explain the strange behavior of the inhabitants of Ephesus, when it is really the result of human error and mistaken identities. Dromio mistakenly thinks that the two Antipholus twins are one and the same person.
Dromio says that he already told him about a ship. Antipholus exclaims, “here we wander in illusions,” confused about what is going on. A courtesan enters and greets Antipholus by his name. She asks if the gold chain he has is for her. Antipholus and Dromio think she is “Mistress Satan,” and “the devil’s dam.” The courtesan invites Antipholus to dinner. Antipholus calls the courtesan a sorceress and commands her to leave.
The confusion caused by the two pairs of twins only heightens, as the courtesan again introduces the importance of the exchange of valuable items. Dromio and Antipholus of Syracuse quickly assume that the courtesan is a kind of witch or supernatural being.
The courtesan asks for his chain, which he had promised her in return for the diamond ring he took from her, or at least for her ring back. Antipholus and Dromio leave, confused and frightened. The courtesan says that Antipholus must be mad. She says that he has promised her a gold chain for her diamond ring. She has heard that Adriana earlier shut him out of their home, and concludes that she must have done so because he is mad. She plans to go to Adriana and tell her that her husband has taken her diamond ring, worth forty ducats.
The complicated chain of exchanges is as follows: Antipholus of Ephesus was to buy the gold necklace from Angelo (who would use that money to pay back the merchant) in order to trade it with the courtesan for a diamond ring. This complicated series of exchanges has been ruined, though, by all of the characters’ errors and mistakes.