The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
ADRIANA To none of these, except it be the last; Namely, some love that drew him oft from home. ABBESS You should for that have reprehended him. ADRIANA Why, so I did. ABBESS Ay, but not rough enough. ADRIANA As roughly as my modesty would let me. ABBESS Haply in private. ADRIANA And in assemblies too. ABBESS Ay, but not enough. ADRIANA It was the copy of our conference. In bed, he slept not for my urging it; At board, he fed not for my urging it; Alone, it was the subject of my theme; In company, I often glanced it; Still did I tell him it was vile and bad. ABBESS And thereof came it that the man was mad. The venom clamours of a jealous woman Poisons more deadly than a mad dog's tooth. It seems his sleeps were hind'red by thy railing, And thereof comes it that his head is light. Thou say'st his meat was sauc'd with thy upbraidings: Unquiet meals make ill digestions; Thereof the raging fire of fever bred; And what's a fever but a fit of madness? Thou say'st his sports were hind'red by thy brawls. Sweet recreation barr'd, what doth ensue But moody and dull melancholy, Kinsman to grim and comfortless despair, And at her heels a huge infectious troop Of pale distemperatures and foes to life? In food, in sport, and life-preserving rest, To be disturb'd would mad or man or beast. The consequence is, then, thy jealous fits Hath scar'd thy husband from the use of wits. (5.1.55)
This is very tricky business on the Abbess’s part. She lures Adriana into incriminating herself as a shrew, and then insists shrewish women get what they deserve. Like Luciana, the Abbess values a man’s comfort over a woman’s suspicions. Also, there’s no talk of the pact between husband and wife; just the glib notion that men are men, and should be left alone by women to do as they please.