Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife Adriana is concerned that her husband is late for lunch, but her sister Luciana, surmising that he may be dining with another merchant, tries to persuade Adriana not to worry and that they should just partake of lunch without him. However, arguing that a man’s liberty in marriage should be no greater than a woman’s, Adriana proves to be inconsolable. When Luciana argues that in nature the male species lords it over the female species and that it’s no different among humans, Adriana argues that if Luciana ever marries and her husband presumes to take more liberties than she ever does, then she—Luciana—would never stand for it.
Presently, Dromio of Ephesus arrives. When questioned about Antipholus of Ephesus’ whereabouts, Dromio merely speaks of the beating he had sustained at his master’s hands. When Adriana presses Dromio about her husband, Dromio speaks about Adriana’s husband’s odd behavior, of how he continually harped on a missing thousand marks, and of how he denied of ever having a wife. Fed up, Adriana orders Dromio to go back and fetch her husband and threatens to beat him if he does not. Reluctantly, Dromio does as he’s told.
By and by, Adriana surmises that her husband is amusing himself in the company of attractive women while she has lost her looks and has worn herself out while tending to household chores. Nonetheless, she believes that she will be revitalized and her looks improve if her husband would pay her more attention and regard her as he would his company of attractive women. Luciana argues Adriana is being a prima donna, but Adriana convinces herself that if things don’t improve that she will die a spurned woman.
Having returned to the Centaur Inn, Antipholus of Syracuse finds his money to be safely stowed there, and presently looks for his servant Dromio of Syracuse. By and by, espying Dromio, Antipholus questions him if he has come to his senses and if he has divested himself of his silly mood. Puzzled, Dromio asks his master what he‘s talking about. Antipholus mentions Dromio’s earlier denial of ever having received a thousand marks from Antipholus and of Dromio’s wild claim that Antipholus’ wife is anxiously awaiting his return home for lunch. Convinced his master is joking, Dromio asks Antipholus what the occasion is that he—Antipholus—would indulge in such silliness only to be beaten by his master. Utterly confused Dromio asks why he is being beaten. Antipholus explains for feigning ignorance of an established fact—not once, but twice. Dromio thanks his master, and when asked why, replies for giving something for nothing. Antipholus promises to make up for giving something for nothing by giving nothing for something the next time. Consequently, Dromio indulges in elaborate wordplay to lighten the mood between him and his master when they are beckoned forth by Adriana and Luciana.
Arguing that there was a time when Antipholus would only regard Adriana and the things associated with her as beautiful and desirable, she urges him to never forget that they are inseparable, that if one of them proves to be unfaithful, the other is lessened by one’s sin. When Antipholus objects, arguing he is a recent visitor to Ephesus and that he has no idea what Adriana is talking about, Luciana scolds her brother-in-law and reminds him that Adriana had sent Dromio to fetch him for lunch. By and by, Antipholus and Dromio look at one another and wonder what’s going on. Yet when Dromio denies that he has no idea whatsoever, Antipholus scolds him, reminding him of how it was he—Dromio—who had spoken of these very facts earlier to Antipholus.
Presently, reminding Antipholus that she and he are inseparable, Adriana exhorts Antipholus to cease trying to thwart her objectives through his servant, to join her for lunch, and let bygones be bygones. Subsequently, unable to make heads or tails of the situation, Antipholus decides to play along until he could arrive at some rational explanation. Meanwhile, Dromio who has been ordered to act as porter and deny anyone from meeting Antipholus, is likewise stunned at these turn of events and attributes them to sorcery and witchcraft.