How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it
That thou art then estrangèd from thyself?
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That, undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self's better part.
Ah, do not tear away thyself from me!
For know, my love, as easy mayst thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,
And take unmingled thence that drop again
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself, and not me too.
How dearly would it touch thee to the quick,
Should'st thou but hear I were licentious,
And that this body, consecrate to thee,
By ruffian lust should be contaminate!
Wouldst thou not spit at me and spurn at me,
And hurl the name of husband in my face,
And tear the stain'd skin off my harlot-brow,
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring,
And break it with a deep-divorcing vow?
I know thou canst, and therefore see thou do it.
I am possessed with an adulterate blot;
My blood is mingled with the crime of lust;
For if we two be one, and thou play false,
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted by thy contagion.
Keep then fair league and truce with thy true bed,
I live distained, thou undishonored. (2.2.130-157)
This is a fascinating chain of logic on marriage. Earlier, Luciana presented the simplistic argument that married women should patiently bear their husbands’ offenses because women are subordinate to men. In this quote, Adriana invokes St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians masterfully: she doesn’t deny that women are subordinate to men, but instead suggests that because a man and woman become one in marriage, when a man harms his wife, he does harm against himself. Indeed, St. Paul writes, "So ought men to love their own wives, as their own bodies, he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it" (5:28-9). Based on this logic, though Adriana seems shrewish, she just wants her husband to do right by her such that he is in turn honoring himself. But, we can’t tell if this is Adriana’s real motivation or just tricky rationalization to justify her anger at her husband.