In The Comedy of Errors we find one of Shakespeare’s hidden gems. Historically this play has gotten a bad rap, and only in recent years have general audiences come around to how much fun this play can be. Let’s take a look at some of the standout monologues from this play.
The Comedy of Errors Monologues
Luciana Act 3 Scene 2
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, speak 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 deeds is 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.
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 earthly 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 thee, 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.
Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange and frown,
Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects;
I am not Adriana, nor thy wife.
The time was once when thou unurg’d wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savour’d in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look’d, or touch’d, or carv’d to thee.
How comes it now, my husband, O, how comes it,
That thou art then estranged from thyself?—
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self’s better part.
Ah, do not tear away thyself from me;
For know, my love, as easy mayst thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,
And take unmingled thence that drop again
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself, and not me too.
How dearly would it touch thee to the quick,
Shouldst thou but hear I were licentious?
And that this body, consecrate to thee,
By ruffian lust should be contaminate?
Wouldst thou not spit at me, and spurn at me,
And hurl the name of husband in my face,
And tear the stain’d skin off my harlot brow,
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring,
And break it with a deep-divorcing vow?
I know thou canst; and therefore, see thou do it!
I am possess’d with an adulterate blot,
My blood is mingled with the crime of lust;
For if we two be one, and thou play false,
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted by thy contagion.
Keep then fair league and truce with thy true bed,
I live unstain’d , thou undishonoured.
Courtisan Act IV, Scene iii
Now out of doubt Antipholus is mad,
Else would he never so demean himself;
A ring he hath of mine worth forty ducats,
And for the same he promis’d me a chain;
Both one and other he denies me now.
The reason that I gather he is mad,
Besides this present instance of his rage,
Is a mad tale he told to-day at dinner
Of his own doors being shut against his entrance.
Belike his wife, acquainted with his fits,
On purpose shut the doors against his way—
My way is now to hie home to his house,
And tell his wife that, being lunatic,
He rush’d into my house and took perforce
My ring away. This course I fittest choose,
For forty ducats is too much to lose.
Balthazar Act III Scene i
Have patience, sir, O, let it not be so;
Herein you war against your reputation,
And draw within the compass of suspect
Th’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 rul’d 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 e’er hous’d where it gets possession.
So there are some of the highlights of The Comedy of Errors Monologues. While Shakespeare’s comedies often get a bad rap for being outdated and for having jokes that are lost to sands of time, what we think this play offers to counter that is some truly contemporary feeling text and jokes that stand the test of time.
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