The Comedy of Errors

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#1/Background/Act 2, Scene 1.1

Some time ago, some long time ago, a merchant from Syracuse arrived
in Ephesus.  His name was Egeon.   Syracuse is on the eastern seacoast of Sicily,
where Ephesus is on the western seacoast of Turkey.  Egeon is arrested immediately after he
arrives and is led to the Duke of Ephesus.
The Duke promptly lets Egeon know that as a result of “the rancorous
outrage of your duke (Syracusian duke) to merchants, it hath been decreed (by
both cities) to admit no traffic to our adverse towns.”  The Duke tells him that it takes “a thousand
marks to quit the penalty and to ransom him.”
Having confiscated Egeon’s goods, the Duke says “Thy property cannot
amount unto a hundred marks; therefore by law thou art condemned to die.”  The Duke says “say in brief why thou
departedst from thy native home and cam’st to Ephesus.”  Being anything but brief, Egeon details the
sad tale that has led him to this moment. Essentially, this is his story.  Some many years ago he had gone on business to
Epidamnus, a port city on the Adriatic Sea.  His very pregnant wife joined him; she bore
identical twin sons; a poor couple had “male twins, both alike, in the selfsame
inn;” he bought them “to attend my sons;” his wife desperately wanted to return
to Syracuse; he reluctantly agreed; their ship sank in a storm; the sailors
left the ship; she fastened the “later-born” to a “small spare mast, bound to
one of the other twins;” he and the other son and other twin “fastened
ourselves to the other end of the mast;” the “seas waxed calm;” they saw “two
ships coming at full speed to us; one from Corinth, one from Epidamnus.”  At that point in his tragic story he breaks
down, saying “Let me say no more.”

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#2/Background/Act 1, Scene 1.2

Egeon was describing the ordeal at sea that he and his
wife, Emilia, had endured, when he suddenly stopped, saying I can’t carry
on.  The Duke says “Do not break off
so.”  Egeon recovers his wits and
continues.  He tells the Duke “We were
encountered by a mighty rock” which split their “small spare mast in two.”  He says “She, poor soul, seeming as burdened
with lesser weight, but not with lesser woe, was carried with more speed before
the wind, and were taken up by fishermen of Corinth, as we thought. At length,
another ship seized on us and homeward did they bend their course.”  The Duke asks ‘What have befall’n of them and
thee till now?”  Egeon replies “My
youngest boy, at eighteen years, became inquisitive after his brother, and
importuned me that with his attendant might bear him company in the quest of
him.” He says for five summers, looking for my sons, roaming clean through
Asia, he came to Ephesus, heading for home.
The Duke says “Hapless Egeon, my soul would be an advocate for thee,
were it not against our laws.  But thou
are adjudged to the death, yet will I favor thee in what I can. I’ll limit thee
this day to seek thy life by beneficial help. Try all the friends thou hast in
Ephesus; beg or borrow to make up the sum, and live.  If no, thou are doomed to die. Jailer, take
him to thy custody.”  They exit.

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#3/Confusion/Act 1, Scene 2

That very morning, the very morning Egeon arrived in
Ephesus, Egeon’s younger twin son, Antipholus of Syracuse (AS), the son he had
raised in Syracuse, the son he has been seeking by “roaming clean through Asia
for five summers” also had arrived in Ephesus.
AS is accompanied by his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (DS).  The First Merchant warns AS to “give out you
are of Epidamnus.” The First Merchant tells him of the Syracusian who “this
very day is apprehended and, not being able to buy out his life, dies ere the
weary sun set in the west.”  AS tells DS
to take his money “to the Centaur, where we host, and stay there till I come to
thee.”  DS exits.  AS asks the First Merchant to dine with him,
but the Merchant says he has other plans, telling AS that he will “meet with
him at the mart at five o’clock.”  Till
then, the Merchant says “I commend you to your own content.”  The First Merchant exits.  Dromio of Ephesus (DE) happens to enter.  AS asks “Why are thou returned so soon?”  DE replies “Returned so soon?  Rather approached too late!”  This moment is the first of many misidentifications;
the essence of the play.  DE tells AS
that his wife is real upset with him; he being late for the noon meal.  DE says “The capon burns; the pig falls from
the spit.”  AS mostly ignores him, asking
him “where have you left the money that I gave you.”  DE says “Jest as you sit at dinner, sir. My
mistress will beat your fault upon my head.”
AS replies, “Come, Dromio, where is the gold I gave in charge to
thee?”  DE snaps “Why, you gave no gold
to me.”  AS beats on DE.  DE cries “What means you, sir?  For God’s sake, hold your hands.”  DE exits.
AS says to himself “They say this town is full of deception, as nimble
criminals deceive the eye. If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner.  I’ll to the Centaur.  I greatly fear my money is not safe.”

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#4/Discouraged/Act 2, Scene 1

This scene opens in the home of Antipholus of
Ephesus.  AE’s wife, Adriana, and her
sister, Luciana, are on stage.  Adriana
is upset with her husband. Luciana argues that men are just that way, saying
“Men are masters to their females.  Let
your will attend on their accords.”
Adriana responds “This servitude makes you to keep unwed.”  Luciana says “Well, I will marry one day.
Here comes your man.”  DE enters.  Adriana asks him “Didst thou speak with
him?”  He says “Ay, ay. He asked me for a
thousand marks in gold.”  “’Tis
dinnertime, quoth I.”  “My gold, quoth
he.”  “Will you come? quoth I.”  “My gold, quoth he.”  “No house, no wife, no mistress, quoth
he.”  Adriana cries “Go back again and
fetch him home.”  He exits. A worried and
discouraged Adriana believes that she is losing her husband’s interest and that
he’s seeing other women.  Luciana tries
to calm her, saying “Self-harming jealousy, fie, beat it hence.”  But Adriana is really distressed, saying “I
know his eye doth homage otherwhere.
Sister, you know he promised me a chain.
No man with a high reputation is shamed by falsehood.  Since that my beauty cannot please his eye,
I’ll weep what’s left away, and weeping die.”
Luciana says “How many silly fools serve mad jealousy!”

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#5/Continued Confusion/Act 2, Scene 2

Antipholus of Syracuse did go to their lodging, the
Centaur, and was happy to learn that “the gold is laid up safe.”  Dromio of Syracuse enters.  AS immediately asks him “Is your merry humor
altered?  Wast thou mad?”  DS replies “What!”  AS cries “Villain, thou didst deny the gold’s
receipts and told’st me of a mistress and a dinner.”  DS replies “What means this jest?”  AS beats him.
AS then treats him more civilly, saying “Well, sir, learn to jest in
good time.  There’s a time for all
things.”  Adriana and Luciana enter.  Adriana lays into AS, letting him know that
he needs to treat her better, and more importantly perhaps, to be a better and
more faithful husband.  Finally, he says
“I know you not.  In Ephesus I am but two
hours old.”  Luciana weighs in, saying
“Fie, brother, how the world is changed with you!”  They accuse each other of trying to deceive
each other.  AS says to DS “How can she
thus call us by our names?”  Adriana says
‘Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine.”
She takes his arm.  He likes the
attention and plans to “entertain the offered fallacy.”  Luciana says to DS “Dromio, go bid the
servants spread for dinner.”  He crosses
himself.  He says “This is the fairy
land.  We talk with goblins, owls, and
sprites.”  AS and DS talk to each other,
shaking their heads.  A determined
Adriana says “Come, come, no longer will I be a fool.  Come, sir, to dinner. Dromio, keep the
gate.  Husband, I’ll dine above with you
today.” She says to DS “Sirrah, if any ask you for your master, say he dines
forth, and let no creature enter.”  AS
asks himself “Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?  Am I sleeping or waking, mad or
well-advised?  I’ll say as they
say.”  Luciana cries “Come, come,
Antipholus, we dine too late.”

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#6/Anger/Act 3, Scene 1

Antipholus of Ephesus, his man Dromio, Angelo the
goldsmith and Balthasar the merchant are on stage.  AE says “Good Signior Angelo, my wife is
shrewish when I keep not hours; say that I lingered with you at your shop to
see the making of her gold necklace.”  He
turns to DE and says “Here’s a villain who has claimed that I beat him; said
that I gave him a thousand marks in gold; and that I did deny my wife and
house.  What didst thou mean by
this?”  The men have been invited by AE
to his home for dinner.  AE attempts to
open the door.  He says “My door is
locked.”  He tells DE to “bid them let us
in.”  From within, DS cries “Go, get thee
from the door.”  AE yells “Ho, open the
door.  I have not dined today.”  From within DS says “Nor today here you must
not.”  AE says “What art thou?”  DS says “The porter.  My name is Dromio.”  Nell, the kitchen maid and engaged to DE,
cries down “Who are those at the gate?”
DE says “Let my master in, Nell.”
She says “He comes too late.”  AE
cries “Do you hear, you hussy?  Let us
in.”  He beats on the door.  Adriana enters and says “Who is that at the
door and keeps all this noise.”  AE says
“Are you there, wife?”  She says “Your
wife, sir knave?  Adriana and Nell
exit.  Angelo says “Here is neither cheer
nor welcome.”  AE tells DE to “Go, fetch
me something.  I’ll break open the
gate.”  From within DS says “Brake
anything here, and I’ll break your knave’s head.”  DE cries “Out upon thee!  Let me in.”
Within DS says “Ay, when fowls have no feathers and fish have no
fin.”  AE says “Fetch me a crowbar.”  Balthasar chimes in, saying “Have patience,
sir. Be ruled by me; depart in patience.”
AE says “You have prevailed.”  He
turns to Angelo and says “Get you home and fetch the chain. Bring it to the
Porpentine.  I will bestow it for nothing
but to spite my wife upon mine hostess there.”
Angelo says “I’ll meet you there some hour hence.”

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#7/Love/Act 3, Scene 2

Luciana lectures AS as they talk over the dinner table,
believing him, of course, to be AE. She (as does Adriana) believes that AE is
seeing one or more other women.  She says
“If you did wed my sister for her wealth, then for her wealth’s sake use her
with more kindness.  Look sweet, speak
pleasingly, and be attractive in your infidelity. Bear a fair presence, though
you heart be tainted.  Teach sin the
behavior of a holy saint.”  AS is taken
by her.  He says “Sweet mistress, teach
me how to think and speak. Are you a god? Would you create me new?  Transform me, then, and to your power I’ll
yield.  But well I know your weeping
sister is no wife of mine.  Sing, Siren,
for thyself, and I will dote.”  Luciana
says “What, are you mad that you do reason so?
Why call you me ‘love’?  Call my
sister so.”  AS replies “No. It is
thyself. Thee will I love, and with thee lead my life; thou hast no husband
yet, nor I no wife.  Give me thy
hand.”  She says “Hold you still.  I’ll fetch my sister.”  She exits.
AS is head-over-heels in love with Luciana.  DS rushes in, saying “I am a woman’s man, and
beside myself.”  AS asks “What woman’s
man?”  DS replies “One that claims me,
one that will have me.”  AS asks ‘Who is
she?”  DS replies “Nell, sir.  This sorcerer laid claim to me, called me
Dromio, swore I was betrothed to her.  I
ran from her.”  AS pauses; then says “Go
immediately.  If the wind blow any way
from shore, I will not harbor in this town tonight.  If any bark put forth, come to the mart,
where I will walk till thou return to me.”
DS exits.  AS says to himself
“There’s none but witches do inhabit here.
She that doth call me husband hath almost made me traitor to
myself.”  Angelo enters with the gold
chain.  Angelo says “Master Antipholus.”  AS says “Ay, that’s my name.”  Angelo says “I know it well, sir.  Lo, here’s the chain.”  AS asks “What is your will that I shall do
with this?”  Angelo says “I have made it
for you.”  AS says “I bespoke it
not.”  Angelo says “Not once, but twenty
times you have.  Go home with it, and
please your wife withal, and soon I’ll visit you and then receive my money for
the chain.”  AS says “I pray you, sir,
receive the money now, for fear you ne’er more will see the chain nor
money.”  Angelo says “You are a merry
man.  Fare you well.”  He exits. AS says to himself “There’s no man
is so vain that would refuse so fair an offered chain.  I’ll to the mart, and there for Dromio
stay.  If any ship put out, then straight

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#8/Confusion/Act 4, Scene 1

The Second Merchant approaches Angelo, letting him know
that he needs to be paid because he “is bound to Persia and needs guilders for
his voyage.”  Angelo tells him that AE
owes him “even the just sum” and that “at five o’clock I shall receive the
money for the same. I will then discharge my bond and thank you too.”  AE and DE enter, returning from the
Porpentine.  AE tells AE “while I go to
the goldsmith’s house, go thou and buy a piece of flogging rope.  I will apply it to those for locking me out
of my doors.”  DE exits.  AE turns to Angelo and says “I promised your
presence and the chain.  But neither
chain nor goldsmith came to me.”  Angelo
replies “Save your merry humor. I am in debt to this gentleman.  I pray you, see that he is presently
paid.”  AE tells him to “take the
stranger (Second Merchant) to my house, and with you take the chain, and bid my
wife disburse the sum on the receipt thereof.”
Angelo asks “Have you the chain about you?”  An upset AE says of course not. He says “Why,
give it to my wife, and fetch your money.”
Angelo replies “Come, come.  You
know I gave it you even now.”  AE says
“Come, where’s the chain?  Let me see
it.”  Angelo says “You know I gave it you
half an hour since.”  AE replies “You
gave me none.  You wrong me much to say
so.”  To a law officer, Angelo says “Here
is my fee.  Arrest him, officer.”  The Officer says to AE “I arrest you,
sir.”  AE says “I do obey thee till I
give thee bail.”  DS enters from the
bay.  DS says “Master, there’s a bark of
Epidamium.  They stay but for their
owner, master, and yourself.”  AE asks
“What ship of Epidamium stays for me?  I
sent thee for a rope.”  DS replies “You
sent me to the bay, sir, for a bark.”  AE
says “I’ll debate this matter later.  To
Adriana, villain, hie thee straight.”  He
gives him a key.  AE tells DS to “Give
her this key, and tell her in the desk is a purse of ducats. Let her send it.  Tell her I am arrested and that shall bail
me.”  All exit but DS.  He says “To Adriana, I must, although against
my will, for servants must their masters’ minds fulfill.”  He exits.

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#9/Bail Money/Act 4, Scene 2

Adriana and Luciana are on stage.  The two of them, having had dinner with AS,
believing him to be AE, leads to a conversation between the two women, Adriana
asking “Did he tempt thee so?”  Luciana
says “First he denied you had in him any right; then swore he that he was a
stranger here; then I pleaded for you.”
Adriana asks “And what said he?”
Luciana tells her that he said he was interested in her (Luciana).  Adriana gets upset.  Luciana says “Have patience, I beseech.”  Adriana tells her sister that she will give
AE a severe tongue lashing.  She says “My
heart prays for him, though my tongue do curse.”  DS enters with the key.  He cries “Go, the desk, the purse.”  Adriana asks “Where is thy master,
Dromio?  Is he well?”  DS says “He’s in prison.”  Adriana asks “Why, what is the matter?”  DS says “I know not why he was arrested.  Will you send him money that will redeem him,
the money in his desk?”  Adriana asks
Luciana to “Go fetch it.”  Luciana
exits.  DS says “Do you not hear the bell
ring?  ‘Tis time that I were gone.”  Luciana enters with the purse.  Adriana says “Go, Dromio.  There’s the money.  Bear it straight, and bring thy master home
immediately.”  He exits.

Abridged The Comedy of Errors/#10/Confusion/Act 4, Scene 3

AS is on stage, wearing the chain.  AS says “There’s not a man I meet but doth
greet me as I were their well-acquainted friend, and everyone doth call me by
my name.”  DS enters with the purse,
saying “Master, here’s the gold you sent me for.”  AS says “What gold is this?  I understand you not.  Is there any ships puts forth tonight?  May we be gone?”  DS gives him the purse.  AS says “The fellow is distracted, and so am
I, and here we wander in illusions.”  The
Courtesan, AE’s friend from the Porpentine, enters.  She says “Well met, Master Antipholus.  Is that the chain you promised me today?”  AS turns to DS, saying “It is the
devil.”  DS says “Nay, she is worse.  Come not near her.”  She says “Your man and you are marvelous
merry, sir.  Will you go with me?”  AS says to the Courtesan “Thou art, as you
are all, a sorceress.  I conjure thee to
leave me and be gone.”  She says “Give me
my ring, or in exchange for my ring, the chain you promised.”  DS says “Master, be wise.”  Don’t give her the chain.  The Courtesan says “I pray you, sir, my ring
or else the chain.  I hope you do not
mean to cheat me so.”  AS says “Come,
Dromio, let us go.”  The two men
exit.  She tells us “A ring he hath of
mine worth forty ducats, and for the same he promised me a chain. Both one and
other he denies me now.  It’s the reason
that I gather him mad.  My way is now to
hie home to his house and tell his wife that he rushed into my house and took
my ring away.”