Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act III: Scene 2

Summary

Luciana entreats Antipholus of S. to be kind to his "wife," even if he must be a hypocrite in the process. "Alas, poor woman!" she exclaims:

Make us but believe,
Being compact of credit, that you love us;
Though others have the arm, show us the sleeve. (21–23)

He shocks Luciana by his response — that he loathes Adriana and deeply loves her: "Far more, far more to you do I decline [incline]." When Luciana runs off, Dromio of S. enters to explain that he too is having problems with a member of the opposite sex: "She's the kitchen wench, and all grease." Master and servant, truly worried that witchcraft is involved, determine to set forth on the first available ship.

Compounding matters at the end of the scene is Angelo the goldsmith, who delivers a gold chain to Antipholus of S., which he "ordered" for his wife. Antipholus of S. refuses payment, saying they can settle later.

Analysis

Antipholus of S. grows more confused as his emotional involvement with the sister of the woman who claims to be his wife becomes greater. In one of the few lyrical passages in the play, he woos the bemused Luciana:

O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears. (45–46)

In contrast to this, Dromio outlines the hideous features of the kitchen maid's anatomy in geographical terms. Shakespeare's only direct reference to America in any of his plays appears here:

Antipholus of S: Where America, the Indies?
Dromio of S: O, sir, upon her nose, all o'erembellished with rubies, carbuncles, sapphires,
Spain, who sent whole armadoes or caracks
[ships] to be ballast [loaded] at her nose. (137–40)

There ought to be a sense of dread from the two characters on stage when they realize that witchcraft may be involved. The audience, of course, aware that the danger is not real, can enjoy the hubbub all the more ("'Tis time, I think, to trudge, pack, and be gone. . . . I'll stop mine ears against the mermaid's song.").

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