The Comedy of Errors
How we cite our quotes:
S. ANTIPHOLUS He that commends me to mine own content
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water
That in the ocean seeks another drop,
Who, falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself.
So I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself. (1.2.33)
Identity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it’s tied up in what we think of others, what others think of us, and is only partly satisfied by what we think of ourselves. It’s clear that rather than trying to assert an identity, S. Antipholus is seeking an identity outside of himself.
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 marr'd,
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. (2.1.87)
Adriana’s identity is tied to E. Antipholus’s perception of her. Her worth as a wife and as a person is directly affected by how much he values her. If he no longer loves her, it’s a tragic blow to her sense of self. Her deep worry seems to suggest that in Adriana’s own eyes, her only worth is as a wife to E. Antipholus (not as an individual with value independent of her relationships to others).
How ill agrees it with your gravity
To counterfeit thus grossly with your slave,
Abetting him to thwart me in my mood! (2.2.168)
It’s interesting that Adriana calls Dromio a "slave." S. Antipholus has done it before, but Adriana’s upset that S. Antipholus seems to be conspiring with his "slave" against her. She seems to be rankling at the fact that Antipholus’s duty to her doesn’t trump what she sees as goofing off with their servant. Essentially, her identity is cast by the terms of her relationship to E. Antipholus.