The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare


Scene I. Before the house of Antipholus of Ephesus.

Enter Antipholus of Ephesus, Dromio of Ephesus, Angelo, and Balthazar

Antipholus of Ephesus Good Signior Angelo, you must excuse us all;
My wife is shrewish when I keep not hours:
Say that I linger’d with you at your shop
To see the making of her carcanet,
And that to-morrow you will bring it home.
But here’s a villain that would face me down
He met me on the mart, and that I beat him,
And charged him with a thousand marks in gold,
And that I did deny my wife and house.
Thou drunkard, thou, what didst thou mean by this?

Dromio of Ephesus Say what you will, sir, but I know what I know;
That you beat me at the mart, I have your hand to show:
If the skin were parchment, and the blows you gave were ink,
Your own handwriting would tell you what I think.

Antipholus of Ephesus I think thou art an ass.

Dromio of Ephesus Marry, so it doth appear
By the wrongs I suffer and the blows I bear.
I should kick, being kick’d; and, being at that pass,
You would keep from my heels and beware of an ass.

Antipholus of Ephesus You’re sad, Signior Balthazar: pray God our cheer
May answer my good will and your good welcome here.

Balthazar I hold your dainties cheap, sir, and your welcome dear.

Antipholus of Ephesus O, Signior Balthazar, either at flesh or fish,
A table full of welcome make scarce one dainty dish.

Balthazar Good meat, sir, is common; that every churl affords.

Antipholus of Ephesus And welcome more common; for that’s nothing but words.

Balthazar Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.

Antipholus of Ephesus Ay, to a niggardly host, and more sparing guest:
But though my cates be mean, take them in good part;
Better cheer may you have, but not with better heart.
But, soft! my door is lock’d. Go bid them let us in.

Dromio of Ephesus Maud, Bridget, Marian, Cicel, Gillian, Ginn!

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Mome, malt-horse, capon, coxcomb, idiot, patch! Either get thee from the door, or sit down at the hatch. Dost thou conjure for wenches, that thou call’st for such store, When one is one too many? Go, get thee from the door.

Dromio of Ephesus What patch is made our porter? My master stays in the street.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Let him walk from whence he came, lest he catch cold on’s feet.

Antipholus of Ephesus Who talks within there? ho, open the door!

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Right, sir; I’ll tell you when, an you tell me wherefore.

Antipholus of Ephesus Wherefore? for my dinner: I have not dined to-day.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Nor to-day here you must not; come again when you may.

Antipholus of Ephesus What art thou that keepest me out from the house I owe?

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] The porter for this time, sir, and my name is Dromio.

Dromio of Ephesus O villain! thou hast stolen both mine office and my name. The one ne’er got me credit, the other mickle blame. If thou hadst been Dromio to-day in my place, Thou wouldst have changed thy face for a name or thy name for an ass.

Luce [Within] What a coil is there, Dromio? who are those at the gate?

Dromio of Ephesus Let my master in, Luce.

Luce [Within] Faith, no; he comes too late;
And so tell your master.

Dromio of Ephesus O Lord, I must laugh!
Have at you with a proverb — Shall I set in my staff?

Luce [Within] Have at you with another; that’s — When? can you tell?

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] If thy name be call’d Luce — Luce, thou hast answered him well.

Antipholus of Ephesus Do you hear, you minion? you’ll let us in, I hope?

Luce [Within] I thought to have asked you.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] And you said no.

Dromio of Ephesus So, come, help: well struck! there was blow for blow.

Antipholus of Ephesus Thou baggage, let me in.

Luce [Within] Can you tell for whose sake?

Dromio of Ephesus Master, knock the door hard.

Luce [Within] Let him knock till it ache.

Antipholus of Ephesus You’ll cry for this, minion, if I beat the door down.

Luce [Within] What needs all that, and a pair of stocks in the town?

Adriana [Within] Who is that at the door that keeps all this noise?

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] By my troth, your town is troubled with unruly boys.

Antipholus of Ephesus Are you there, wife? you might have come before.

Adriana [Within] Your wife, sir knave! go get you from the door.

Dromio of Ephesus If you went in pain, master, this ’knave’ would go sore.

Angelo Here is neither cheer, sir, nor welcome: we would fain have either.

Balthazar In debating which was best, we shall part with neither.

Dromio of Ephesus They stand at the door, master; bid them welcome hither.

Antipholus of Ephesus There is something in the wind, that we cannot get in.

Dromio of Ephesus You would say so, master, if your garments were thin.
Your cake there is warm within; you stand here in the cold:
It would make a man mad as a buck, to be so bought and sold.

Antipholus of Ephesus Go fetch me something: I’ll break ope the gate.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Break any breaking here, and I’ll break your knave’s pate.

Dromio of Ephesus A man may break a word with you, sir, and words are but wind,
Ay, and break it in your face, so he break it not behind.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] It seems thou want’st breaking: out upon thee, hind!

Dromio of Ephesus Here’s too much ‘out upon thee!’ I pray thee, let me in.

Dromio of Syracuse [Within] Ay, when fowls have no feathers and fish have no fin.

Antipholus of Ephesus Well, I’ll break in: go borrow me a crow.

Dromio of Ephesus A crow without feather? Master, mean you so?
For a fish without a fin, there’s a fowl without a feather;
If a crow help us in, sirrah, we’ll pluck a crow together.

Antipholus of Ephesus Go get thee gone; fetch me an iron crow.

Balthazar Have patience, sir; O, let it not be so!
Herein you war against your reputation
And draw within the compass of suspect
The unviolated honour of your wife.
Once this — your long experience of her wisdom,
Her sober virtue, years and modesty,
Plead on her part some cause to you unknown:
And doubt not, sir, but she will well excuse
Why at this time the doors are made against you.
Be ruled by me: depart in patience,
And let us to the Tiger all to dinner,
And about evening come yourself alone
To know the reason of this strange restraint.
If by strong hand you offer to break in
Now in the stirring passage of the day,
A vulgar comment will be made of it,
And that supposed by the common rout
Against your yet ungalled estimation
That may with foul intrusion enter in
And dwell upon your grave when you are dead;
For slander lives upon succession,
For ever housed where it gets possession.

Antipholus of Ephesus You have prevailed: I will depart in quiet,
And, in despite of mirth, mean to be merry.
I know a wench of excellent discourse,
Pretty and witty; wild, and yet, too, gentle:
There will we dine. This woman that I mean,
My wife — but, I protest, without desert —
Hath oftentimes upbraided me withal:
To her will we to dinner.

To Angelo

Get you home
And fetch the chain; by this I know ’tis made:
Bring it, I pray you, to the Porpentine;
For there’s the house: that chain will I bestow —
Be it for nothing but to spite my wife —
Upon mine hostess there: good sir, make haste.
Since mine own doors refuse to entertain me,
I’ll knock elsewhere, to see if they’ll disdain me.

Angelo I’ll meet you at that place some hour hence.

Antipholus of Ephesus Do so. This jest shall cost me some expense.


Scene II. The same.

Enter Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse

Luciana And may it be that you have quite forgot
A husband’s office? shall, Antipholus.
Even in the spring of love, thy love-springs rot?
Shall love, in building, grow so ruinous?
If you did wed my sister for her wealth,
Then for her wealth’s sake use her with more kindness:
Or if you like elsewhere, do it by stealth;
Muffle your false love with some show of blindness:
Let not my sister read it in your eye;
Be not thy tongue thy own shame’s orator;
Look sweet, be fair, become disloyalty;
Apparel vice like virtue’s harbinger;
Bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted;
Teach sin the carriage of a holy saint;
Be secret-false: what need she be acquainted?
What simple thief brags of his own attaint?
’Tis double wrong, to truant with your bed
And let her read it in thy looks at board:
Shame hath a bastard fame, well managed;
Ill d eeds are doubled with an evil word.
Alas, poor women! make us but believe,
Being compact of credit, that you love us;
Though others have the arm, show us the sleeve;
We in your motion turn and you may move us.
Then, gentle brother, get you in again;
Comfort my sister, cheer her, call her wife:
’Tis holy sport to be a little vain,
When the sweet breath of flattery conquers strife.

Antipholus of Syracuse Sweet mistress — what your name is else, I know not,
Nor by what wonder you do hit of mine —
Less in your knowledge and your grace you show not
Than our earth’s wonder, more than earth divine.
Teach me, dear creature, how to think and speak;
Lay open to my earthy-gross conceit,
Smother’d in errors, feeble, shallow, weak,
The folded meaning of your words’ deceit.
Against my soul’s pure truth why labour you
To make it wander in an unknown field?
Are you a god? would you create me new?
Transform me then, and to your power I’ll yield.
But if that I am I, then well I know
Your weeping sister is no wife of mine,
Nor to her bed no homage do I owe
Far more, far more to you do I decline.
O, train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister’s flood of tears:
Sing, siren, for thyself and I will dote:
Spread o’er the silver waves thy golden hairs,
And as a bed I’ll take them and there lie,
And in that glorious supposition think
He gains by death that hath such means to die:
Let Love, being light, be drowned if she sink!

Luciana What, are you mad, that you do reason so?

Antipholus of Syracuse Not mad, but mated; how, I do not know.

Luciana It is a fault that springeth from your eye.

Antipholus of Syracuse For gazing on your beams, fair sun, being by.

Luciana Gaze where you should, and that will clear your sight.

Antipholus of Syracuse As good to wink, sweet love, as look on night.

Luciana Why call you me love? call my sister so.

Antipholus of Syracuse Thy sister’s sister.

Luciana That’s my sister.

Antipholus of Syracuse No;
It is thyself, mine own self’s better part,
Mine eye’s clear eye, my dear heart’s dearer heart,
My food, my fortune and my sweet hope’s aim,
My sole earth’s heaven and my heaven’s claim.

Luciana All this my sister is, or else should be.

Antipholus of Syracuse Call thyself sister, sweet, for I am thee.
Thee will I love and with thee lead my life:
Thou hast no husband yet nor I no wife.
Give me thy hand.

Luciana   O, soft, air! hold you still:
I’ll fetch my sister, to get her good will.


Enter Dromio of Syracuse

Antipholus of Syracuse Why, how now, Dromio! where runn’st thou so fast?

Dromio of Syracuse Do you know me, sir? am I Dromio? am I your man? am I myself?

Antipholus of Syracuse Thou art Dromio, thou art my man, thou art thyself.

Dromio of Syracuse I am an ass, I am a woman’s man and besides myself.

Antipholus of Syracuse What woman’s man? and how besides thyself? besides thyself?

Dromio of Syracuse Marry, sir, besides myself, I am due to a woman; one that claims me, one that haunts me, one that will have me.

Antipholus of Syracuse What claim lays she to thee?

Dromio of Syracuse Marry sir, such claim as you would lay to your horse; and she would have me as a beast: not that, I being a beast, she would have me; but that she, being a very beastly creature, lays claim to me.

Antipholus of Syracuse What is she?

Dromio of Syracuse A very reverent body; ay, such a one as a man may not speak of without he say ‘sir-reverence.’ I have but lean luck in the match, and yet is she a wondrous fat marriage.

Antipholus of Syracuse How dost thou mean a fat marriage?

Dromio of Syracuse Marry, sir, she’s the kitchen wench and all grease; and I know not what use to put her to but to make a lamp of her and run from her by her own light. I warrant, her rags and the tallow in them will burn a Poland winter: if she lives till doomsday, she’ll burn a week longer than the whole world.

Antipholus of Syracuse What complexion is she of?

Dromio of Syracuse Swart, like my shoe, but her face nothing half so clean kept: for why, she sweats; a man may go over shoes in the grime of it.

Antipholus of Syracuse That’s a fault that water will mend.

Dromio of Syracuse No, sir, ’tis in grain; Noah’s flood could not do it.

Antipholus of Syracuse What’s her name?

Dromio of Syracuse Nell, sir; but her name and three quarters, that’s an ell and three quarters, will not measure her from hip to hip.

Antipholus of Syracuse Then she bears some breadth?

Dromio of Syracuse No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip: she is spherical, like a globe; I could find out countries in her.

Antipholus of Syracuse In what part of her body stands Ireland?

Dromio of Syracuse Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where Scotland?

Dromio of Syracuse I found it by the barrenness; hard in the palm of the hand.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where France?

Dromio of Syracuse In her forehead; armed and reverted, making war against her heir.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where England?

Dromio of Syracuse I looked for the chalky cliffs, but I could find no whiteness in them; but I guess it stood in her chin, by the salt rheum that ran between France and it.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where Spain?

Dromio of Syracuse Faith, I saw it not; but I felt it hot in her breath.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where America, the Indies?

Dromio of Syracuse Oh, sir, upon her nose all o’er embellished with rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich aspect to the hot breath of Spain; who sent whole armadoes of caracks to be ballast at her nose.

Antipholus of Syracuse Where stood Belgia, the Netherlands?

Dromio of Syracuse Oh, sir, I did not look so low. To conclude, this drudge, or diviner, laid claim to me, call’d me Dromio; swore I was assured to her; told me what privy marks I had about me, as, the mark of my shoulder, the mole in my neck, the great wart on my left arm, that I amazed ran from her as a witch: And, I think, if my breast had not been made of faith and my heart of steel, She had transform’d me to a curtal dog and made me turn i’ the wheel.

Antipholus of Syracuse Go hie thee presently, post to the road:
An if the wind blow any way from shore,
I will not harbour in this town to-night:
If any bark put forth, come to the mart,
Where I will walk till thou return to me.
If every one knows us and we know none,
’Tis time, I think, to trudge, pack and be gone.

Dromio of Syracuse As from a bear a man would run for life,
So fly I from her that would be my wife.


Antipholus of Syracuse There’s none but witches do inhabit here;
And therefore ’tis high time that I were hence.
She that doth call me husband, even my soul
Doth for a wife abhor. But her fair sister,
Possess’d with such a gentle sovereign grace,
Of such enchanting presence and discourse,
Hath almost made me traitor to myself:
But, lest myself be guilty to self-wrong,
I’ll stop mine ears against the mermaid’s song.

Enter Angelo with the chain

Angelo Master Antipholus —

Antipholus of Syracuse Ay, that’s my name.

Angelo I know it well, sir, lo, here is the chain.
I thought to have ta’en you at the Porpentine:
The chain unfinish’d made me stay thus long.

Antipholus of Syracuse What is your will that I shall do with this?

Angelo What please yourself, sir: I have made it for you.

Antipholus of Syracuse Made it for me, sir! I bespoke it not.

Angelo Not once, nor twice, but twenty times you have.
Go home with it and please your wife withal;
And soon at supper-time I’ll visit you
And then receive my money for the chain.

Antipholus of Syracuse I pray you, sir, receive the money now,
For fear you ne’er see chain nor money more.

Angelo You are a merry man, sir: fare you well.


Antipholus of Syracuse What I should think of this, I cannot tell:
But this I think, there’s no man is so vain
That would refuse so fair an offer’d chain.
I see a man here needs not live by shifts,
When in the streets he meets such golden gifts.
I’ll to the mart, and there for Dromio stay
If any ship put out, then straight away.


Last updated Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 23:07