The Comedy of Errors | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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The Comedy of Errors | Act 4, Scene 2 | Summary



Back at home Adriana and Luciana are trying to make sense of Antipholus's behavior. As far as Adriana knows, her husband—Antipholus of Ephesus—has just tried to woo her sister, though in fact this was Antipholus of Syracuse. Adriana jealously interrogates Luciana, but Dromio of Syracuse interrupts the conversation when he comes running in to collect bail money for his master. Luciana brings Dromio a purse of money, and Adriana sends him off to the jail to bail out Antipholus.


This short scene serves mainly to build momentum and to bring Adriana and Luciana back into the action as the play nears its close. Shortly after this scene ends, Adriana will learn from the courtesan her husband is not merely imprisoned for debt—which would be bad enough—but has gone mad. Although she is content to let Dromio sort out the embarrassing matter of bail, the news of Antipholus's madness will compel her to visit the jail in person.

Act 2, Scene 1 hints at the strained relationship between Adriana and Luciana, who means well but gives somewhat officious and ill-timed advice. This scene builds on Luciana's character traits, Adriana's jealous tendencies, and the interplay between the women, who both question their gender roles, by casting Luciana as the object of Antipholus of Ephesus's (really Syracuse's) affections. Adriana now grows suspicious of her sister and asks her, point blank: "Did'st speak him fair?" (i.e., did you go along with his advances?). Perhaps afraid of what she will discover, Adriana does not wait for Luciana's answer, but launches into a string of curses against her husband. She still loves Antipholus of Ephesus, as her subsequent actions will show, but his flirtations with the courtesan and his apparent courtship of Luciana have taken their toll.

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