Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act II: Scene2

Summary

Antipholus of S. beats Dromio of S., this time, for his former "insolence," warning him in the future to be sure precisely when the time is right for jesting ("Know my aspect"). Dromio takes the beating, completely ignorant about the reason for it, after which the two engage in witty dialogue about Time.

When Adriana and Luciana enter, taking the Syracusan Antipholus for the Ephesian, the two men begin to doubt their senses.

Dromio: I am transformed, master, am not I?
Antipholus: I think thou art in mind, and so am I. (198–99)

Their bewilderment follows quickly upon Adriana's long forgiving speech to her "husband." Antipholus of S. correctly explains that he has only been in Ephesus for two hours, and therefore he does not know who Adriana is. When Luciana recounts having sent Dromio (of E.) to fetch him to dinner, Antipholus of S. becomes further befuddled, suspecting that his servant is in on a practical joke. By the end of the scene, however, both master and servant simply agree to play along with the (rather pleasant) madness of going to dinner with a beautiful woman who thinks she is wife and mistress to them.

Antipholus of S. [aside]:
Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking, made 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. (214–18)

Analysis

Master and servant begin the scene at odds with one another, and by its end they are jointly subject to one of the plots "errors," this time taken as a potentially enjoyable spell to which they may just voluntarily surrender themselves. In the middle of the scene, the two of them banter on the topic of Time, a favorite theme of Shakespeare's. Note the numerous references to Time and Time passing up to this point in the play, and note the effect of the speed-tip action of the farce as the play proceeds. Antipholus of S. has been in Ephesus two hours and has already despaired of finding his family, has been "bereft" of his money, has had to beat "his" servant twice, has been invited to a private dinner in an upstairs chamber by an enchanting stranger (though he prefers her sister), and there is more to come. On stage all this has transpired very quickly, drawing the audience into the illusion of the whirl of events. "Was I married to her in my dreams?" Antipholus of S. asks himself, thus extending the real vs. waking time theme to the hours when one lives at a subconscious level.

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