The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.
A heavier task could not have been imposed
Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable;
Yet, that the world may witness that my end
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,
I'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave. (1.1.31-35)
Though Egeon gratefully accepts his death sentence, he still wants to clarify the reason he’s in Ephesus. It’s important that he die without appearing a common criminal, guilty of a "vile offence" like simple trespassing. He’d like it to be known that the nature and depth of his suffering has been his undoing. Though he accepts his fate, he won’t lose the appearance of his honor.
His company must do his minions grace,
Whilst I at home starve for a merry look.
Hath homely age th' alluring beauty took
From my poor cheek? Then he hath wasted it.
Are my discourses dull? Barren my wit?
If voluble and sharp discourse be marred,
Unkindness blunts it more than marble hard.
Do their gay vestments his affections bait?
That's not my fault; he's master of my state.
What ruins are in me that can be found
By him not ruin'd? Then is he the ground
Of my defeatures. My decayed fair
A sunny look of his would soon repair.
But, too unruly deer, he breaks the pale
And feeds from home. Poor I am but his stale. (2.1.92-106)
Adriana is concerned that her physical appearance has waned – she’s not as beautiful as she once was, and it seems this alone might constitute E. Antipholus’s rationale for seeking female affection elsewhere. Still, while Adriana blames time for her changed appearance, she also charges her husband with fault. She believes that her beauty and wit have been wasted by him in their marriage, so any flaws in her appearance seems to be his lot to endure. Also, this quote emphasizes the importance of a woman’s beauty with regard to her worth in marriage.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking, mad or well-advised?
Known unto these, and to myself disguised!
I'll say as they say, and persever so,
And in this mist at all adventures go. (2.2.225-229)
S. Antipholus knows this place is not as normal as it appears to be – the reality of what he perceives is utterly distant from what he sees and hears before him. Rather than investigate this weird situation, S. Antipholus decides that he’ll keep up the appearance that seems to work for these strangers, even if it means he’s disguised from himself. (Or, might we suggest, perhaps he’s been so alien from his own self that he has no trouble keeping up another’s appearance.)