Study Guide

The Comedy of Errors Act III, Scene i

By William Shakespeare

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Act III, Scene i

Read the full text of The Comedy of Errors Act 3 Scene 1 with a side-by-side translation HERE.

  • Near E. Antipholus’s house, E. Antipholus meets with Angelo, a goldsmith he has asked to make his wife a necklace (the one she was talking about earlier with Luciana). He notes that he’s late for dinner, which means his wife will be "shrewish," so he asks Angelo to cover for him. Angelo has been instructed to say that E. Antipholus was with him to see about making the necklace, which Angelo should bring to the house the next day.
  • E. Antipholus then complains about E. Dromio, who has been claiming that he (E. Antipholus) gave him a beating in the marketplace, which he absolutely did not...though it's strange that E. Dromio is bruised. (It was S. Antipholus! Remember?)
  • E. Dromio won’t give in, so E. Antipholus calls him an ass.
  • The conversation turns to the Merchant Balthazar, who’s looking rather serious. Balthazar and E. Antipholus then have a witty exchange about a dinner invitation E. Antipholus has extended to the Merchant. Balthazar says he’s more pleased about the invitation than he is about the food, as meat is cheap. E. Antipholus quips that meat may be cheap, but words are even cheaper. Still, Balthazar is welcome at his house, and dinner will be delicious and make him think happy thoughts.
  • Anyway, the joke’s on E. Antipholus, as dinner would be awesome, if he could get into his house...which he can’t. Because the gate is locked.
  • What ensues at the gates is a long, confused exchange. S. Dromio guards the gate of E. Antipholus’s house from the inside (so he can’t see who’s outside the door, or else he’d recognize his and his master’s identical twins). Adriana instructed him to let nobody in, so S. Dromio feels justified in having some fun with the guys outside.
  • E. Dromio and E. Antipholus wonder who on earth is guarding the gate and why he wouldn’t let the owner of the house in. When they ask who this mystery guard is, S. Dromio truthfully replies that his name is Dromio. This, of course, confuses E. Dromio, who decides his identity has been stolen.
  • Matters are made worse when another servant, Luce, backs up S. Dromio from inside the gate.
  • E. Antipholus assures all the minions they'll pay for this insubordination when he breaks down the gate, which he's about to do.
  • The confusion only increases: Adriana herself has come to the gate. She can’t see who the men outside the gate are, but one insists that he’s her husband (which he is). Adriana thinks her husband is inside, so she won’t let them in either.
  • Finally, E. Antipholus has had enough, and gets ready to break down his own door. Balthazar pierces the madness as the voice of reason. He says that if E. Antipholus makes a scene by breaking down his own door, he’ll only be hurting his own reputation by casting suspicion on the faithfulness of his wife. (Like, why is she locking him out, and who’s she locking herself in with?) Balthazar’s says E. Antipholus’s wife is a good woman, so she’s sure to have a good explanation for locking him out. Until they find out what Adriana’s good excuse is, they should go to the Tiger and have some dinner.
  • E. Antipholus decides that going out to eat is a good idea, and he knows where they can go. 
  • There's a nice woman at the Porpentine that his wife has accused him of being unfaithful with before. He hasn't been, of course, but hey—she is pretty cute. 
  • He then tells Angelo to go get the necklace. He's going to give it to this other woman to get back at his wife for not letting him in.

The Comedy of Errors Act III, Scene i Study Group

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