The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors Act III, Scene i Summary
- Near E. Antipholus’s house, E. Antipholus meets with a goldsmith he has asked to make his wife a necklace (the one she was talking about earlier with Luciana). He notes that he’s late for dinner, which means his wife will be "shrewish," so he asks Angelo to cover for him. Angelo has been instructed to say that E. Antipholus was with him to see about making the necklace, which Angelo should bring to the house the next day.
- E. Antipholus then complains about E. Dromio, who he thinks is lying to his face. (Remember that S. Antipholus met E. Dromio at the marketplace, and beat him when he couldn’t produce the 1,000 marks that S. Antipholus had given to S. Dromio?) E. Antipholus insists he didn’t beat E. Dromio, though E. Dromio has the marks from it. E. Dromio won’t give in, so E. Antipholus calls him an ass.
- The conversation turns to the Merchant Balthazar, who’s looking rather serious. Balthazar and E. Antipholus then have a witty exchange about a dinner invitation E. Antipholus has extended to the Merchant. Balthazar says he’s more pleased about the invitation than he is about the food, as meat is cheap. E. Antipholus quips that meat may be cheap, but words are even cheaper. Still, Balthazar is welcome at his house, and dinner will be delicious and make him think happy thoughts.
- Anyway, the joke’s on E. Antipholus, as dinner would be awesome, if he could get into his house… which we know he can’t.
- What ensues at the gates is a long, confused exchange. S. Dromio guards the gate of E. Antipholus’s house from the inside (so he can’t see who’s outside the door, or else he’d recognize his and his master’s identical twins). Adriana instructed him to let nobody in, so S. Dromio feels justified in having some fun with the guys outside.
- E. Dromio and E. Antipholus wonder who on earth is guarding the gate and why he wouldn’t let the owner of the house (and gate) in. When they ask who this mystery guard is, S. Dromio truthfully replies that his name is Dromio. This, of course, confuses E. Dromio, who decides his identity has been stolen.
- The confusion only increases: Adriana herself has come to the gate. She can’t see who the men outside the gate are, but one insists that he’s her husband (which he is). Adriana thinks her husband is inside, so she won’t let them in either.
- Finally, E. Antipholus has had enough, and gets ready to break down his own door. Balthazar pierces the madness as the voice of reason. He says that if E. Antipholus makes a scene by break down his own door, he’ll only be hurting his own reputation by casting suspicion on the faithfulness of his wife. (Like, why is she locking him out, and who’s she locking herself in with?) Balthazar’s says E. Antipholus’s wife is a good woman, so she’s sure to have a good explanation for locking him out. Until they find out what Adriana’s good excuse is, they should go to the Tiger and have some dinner.
- E. Antipholus stops being mad and decides that going out to eat is a good idea. E. Antipholus then begins to talk about a "wench" he knows. He praises her for being a good "conversationalist", pretty and witty, wild yet gentle, but he quickly cuts himself off just short of getting himself into real trouble.
- E. Antipholus says his wife has often chided him about this woman, but he protests that he doesn’t deserve it (implying that he hasn’t cheated with her). Anyway, they’ll go to this place for dinner and… er, conversation.
- E. Antipholus instructs Angelo, the goldsmith, to go off and get the necklace he’s made. He wants Angelo to then meet him at the Porpentine (the conversationalist wench’s house). E. Antipholus says he’ll actually give the necklace to his "hostess" at the Porpentine to spite his wife, who, it seems, has locked him out.