The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
BALTHAZAR. Have patience, sir; O, let it not be so! Herein you war against your reputation, And draw within the compass of suspect Th' unviolated honour of your wife. Once this-your long experience of her wisdom, Her sober virtue, years, and modesty, Plead on her part some cause to you unknown; And doubt not, sir, but she will well excuse Why at this time the doors are made against you. Be rul'd by me: depart in patience, And let us to the Tiger all to dinner; And, about evening, come yourself alone To know the reason of this strange restraint. If by strong hand you offer to break in Now in the stirring passage of the day, A vulgar comment will be made of it, And that supposed by the common rout Against your yet ungalled estimation That may with foul intrusion enter in And dwell upon your grave when you are dead; For slander lives upon succession, For ever hous'd where it gets possession. (3.1.85)
Balthazar notes that even if E. Antipholus were right for breaking down his own door, it’s better to keep up appearances in the neighborhood than do what would make sense. Though breaking down the door would clear up the matter immediately, E. Antipholus would be risking his good reputation. Apparently, maintaining appearances is worth more to E. Antipholus than seeking truth.
LUCIANA 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; Be not thy tongue thy own shame's orator; Look sweet, speak fair, become disloyalty; Apparel vice like virtue's harbinger; Bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted; Teach sin the carriage of a holy saint; Be secret-false. What need she be acquainted? What simple thief brags of his own attaint? 'Tis double wrong to truant with your bed And let her read it in thy looks at board; Shame hath a bastard fame, well managed; Ill deeds is doubled with an evil word. (3.2.7)
Luciana doesn’t condemn the man she thinks is her brother-in-law for his faithlessness. Instead, she says it’d be better if he kept up appearances about loving Adriana. Even if he’s being totally two-faced and lying on top of that, at the very least, Antipholus should keep Adriana happy by making her think that her husband still loves her. According to Luciana here, appearances in marriage are more important than honesty.
ADRIANA Ah, Luciana, did he tempt thee so? Might'st thou perceive austerely in his eye That he did plead in earnest? Yea or no? Look'd he or red or pale, or sad or merrily? What observation mad'st thou in this case Of his heart's meteors tilting in his face? (4.2.1)
This is an interesting reaction for Adriana to have upon hearing about how her "husband" is jonesing for her sister. She doesn’t immediately fly into a rage – instead, she wishes to know how he appeared. It’s actually quite perfect, as Luciana told S. Antipholus that all he had to do was appear to still be in love with Adriana, regardless of whether he was. As it turns out, Luciana was right – Adriana is willing to ignore what her husband said, and instead uses his appearance (easily falsifiable, obviously) to judge whether he’s actually serious.