Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS


ACT III

SCENE i

The real Ephesian husband, Antipholus, is anxious to get back to his wife who he says is "shrewish" when he's late (III.i.2), and excuses himself from Angelo, a goldsmith making a "carcanet" (III.i.4) -- a jewelled necklace (see Sonnet 52) -- for the Ephesian Antipholus' wife. With the minor character Angelo, Oxford may be thinking of Agnello, the "goldfinder" who, as Michael Lok's partner, helped promote the financially disastrous second expedition to the northwest (Ruth Loyd Miller, in Clark 21-22).

"His" Dromio (the Ephesian one), Angelo, and the merchant Balthazar go with Antipholus to his home, but inside are the other twins and Dromio of Syracuse won't open the door. Ephesian Dromio is perturbed: "O villain, thou hast stol'n both mine office and my name: / The one ne'er got me credit, the other mickle blame" (III.i.44-45). This assertion regarding the name makes no sense (except as a later insertion regarding the authorship problem). The servant, Luce, gets involved, as does Adriana -- all refusing to open up for what appears to them to be an insane person.

The merchant Balthazar, although implying that Antipholus' wife may be up to something unseemly, advises patience: "Herein you war against your reputation, / And draw within the compass of suspect / Th' unviolated honor of your wife" (III.i.86-88) -- which sounds like another Oxfordian perspective added in (Clark 17), as does this warning concerned more with reputation reputation reputation:
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 hous'd where it gets possession.
(III.i.98-106)
Nevertheless, Antipholus tells Angelo to bring the chain to the Porpentine Inn where he knows a "wench" and will bestow on her what was to have been a gift to his wife.

SCENE ii

Inside the house, Luciana urges Antipholus of Syracuse to be kind to Adriana, even if he has to fake it: "Look sweet, speak fair, become disloyalty" (III.ii.11). But he is taken with Luciana herself: "Less in your knowledge and in your grace you show not / Than our earth's wonder, more than earth divine" (III.ii.31-32). "Earth's wonder" may be an allusion to Queen Elizabeth, as the Riverside notes acknowledge (124), but what are the implications? "Are you a god? Would you create me new? / Transform me then, and to your pow'r I'll yield" (III.ii.39-40). Luciana is shocked and keeps trying to shift his focus to her sister, but finally scurries off.

Syracusian Dromio enters and reports that the kitchen maid is smitten with him. Dromio describes her: "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" (III.ii.95-98). In a rather artificial vaudeville Q-and-A exchange, Dromio continues describing her in geographical terms. She's a globe, so Antipholus asks where various countries are on her person: "Where's Scotland?" "Where's France?" etc. Ruth Loyd Miller notes that this sort of exercise, a geographical catchism, was administered by Lord Burghley (in Clark 28-29): e.g., "Where is the thighbone of England?" etc. As a literary trope, it resembles the Italian and English "antiblazon," which "describes the emphatically unideal and materially real characteristics of a woman, focusing on her body below the neck rather than above it" (Garber 168). The roundabout listing of the fat lady's charms includes the only reference to "America" in the canon (III.i.133) as Garber notes (169). Dromio's explanation of France -- In her forehead, arm'd and reverted, making war against her heir" (III.ii.123-124) -- refers either to Henry IV of France, a Protestant king to a largely Catholic country when he took the throne after death of Henry III in 1589 (Asimov 176), or to Henry III returning from Poland in 1574 at the death of Charles IX and encountering Protestants and anti-Guisans ready to take action until Catherine de Medici rounded up the leaders (Ogburn and Ogburn 113). Anderson offers the daring suggestion about this scene that Oxford's "satirical license" is responsible for his being able to mock Queen Elizabeth as a fat kitchen-wench (Anderson 125).

Whether or not witchcraft is to blame for these weird events, Antipholus decides it's time to get the heck out of town. Dromio agrees: "As from a bear a man would run for life, / So fly I from her that would be my wife" (III.ii.154-155). Exit. (An anticipation of the famous stage direction from The Winter's Tale?) They will set sail on the next ship out of town. But just before his exit, Antipholus is approached by Angelo the goldsmith who delivers the gold chain to this wrong Antipholus. The fake husband would pay now but Angelo insists on later.


Act IV

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