On account of his planned trip to Persia and the money required to make the trip, the Second Merchant of Ephesus urges Angelo the goldsmith to pay the debt Angelo owes the Merchant the failure of which will compel the Merchant to have Angelo arrested. Angelo ensures the Merchant that the money owed him will be paid, i.e. as soon as they meet Antipholus who owes Angelo the very amount Angelo owes the Merchant. Thus, they are about to go meet Antipholus when Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus enter the scene.
For the purpose of teaching his wife and his household a lesson, Antipholus of Ephesus orders Dromio of Ephesus to go buy a rope and presently scolds Angelo for failing to meet up with him and to deliver the promised gold necklace. Dismissing Antipholus’ chastisement as a merry joke, Angelo presents Antipholus with a bill (for the gold necklace) and explains that he—Antipholus—ought to transfer the funds directly to the Merchant to whom Angelo is indebted for the exact amount. Explaining that he has no money just now, Antipholus urges Angelo to go to his –Antipholus’—house, to give his wife Adriana the gold necklace, and to collect the money form her. Angelo assures Antipholus that he will do just that, provided Antipholus returns the gold necklace that had been given him by Angelo. Antipholus denies that Angelo had ever given him the gold necklace.
Presently, the Merchant, who is eager to be on his way to Persia, tries to have Angelo arrested for delinquency of payment. Angelo, however, persuades the Officer that it's Antipholus who should bear the brunt of the wrong done unto the Merchant. Consequently, Antipholus is arrested for delinquency of payment when Dromio of Syracuse appears on the scene to inform Antipholus that a ship bound for Epidamium is awaiting them. Scolding Dromio for utterly failing to carry out his order (to fetch a rope), Antipholus gives Dromio a key and orders him to the give the key to his wife Adriana who will use the key to gain access to money which will grant Antipholus bail. Though reluctant to return to the house where the kitchen wench Luce might ambush him, Dromio does as he is told as befitting a good servant.
When Luciana informs Adriana of how Antipholus denied that he was legally wed to Adriana and of how he solicited Luciana’’s affections, Adriana speaks unfavorably of Antipholus only to admit that she is only speaking thus and that her true feelings for Antipholus are nothing but favorable. Suddenly, out-of-breath, Dromio of Syracuse appears on the scene. Telling them to quickly fetch the money which the key he hands them will gain them access to, Dromio explains that Antipholus has been arrested and that the money which the key will gain them access to will secure Antpholus’ freedom. By and by, Luciana fetches the money. Then giving Dromio the money, Adriana orders him to safely bring his master home.
On account of strangers recognizing him by name and of strangers soliciting him with favors he never sought, Antipholus of Syracuse is convinced that he is beset by sorcery and witchcraft on all sides when Dromio of Syracuse appears and wonders how his master managed to get himself out of custody. Confused, Antipholus dismisses Dromio’s question as a stupid joke and asks him about his commission: to find out if there are any ships sailing out of Ephesus tonight. Confused, Dromio explains how he informed Antipholus an hour ago of the ship Expedition which they were expected to board only to have their plans changed when Antipholus was arrested by an officer.
Presently, the hostess of the Porpentine the Courtezan on whom Antipholus of Ephesus had bestowed favors, appears on the scene to urge Antipholus of Syracuse to join her for a late supper. She tells Antipholus that he ought to give her the gold necklace he had promised her or else return the ring which is worth a small fortune and which the Courtezan had given Antipholus in anticipation of receiving the gold necklace in return. Calling her the devil, Antipholus evades her, prompting the Courtezan to go to Antipholus’ house and to make her complaint of Antipholus’ erratic behavior to Antipholus’ wife Adriana.
Antipholus of Ephesus assures the officer who had arrested him that he—Antipholus—will not strive to escape, and that his wife, in due time, will pay for his release when Dromio of Ephesus arrives on the scene with a rope. Antipholus asks Dromio about the bail money he sent for only to be told that whatever money Dromio had was spent in acquiring the rope. Incensed, Antipholus beats Dromio. The Officer tries in vain to abate Antipholus’ rage.
Presently, Adriana, Luciana, the Courtezan, and Doctor Pinch arrive on the scene to behold Antipholus beating Dromio. Prompted by the Courtezan who’s convinced Antipholus is out of him mind, Dr. Pinch tries to administer to Antipholus only to be beaten. By and by, Antipholus demands the reason his wife Adriana had locked him out of the house. Adriana denies that she had locked him out. Indeed, Adriana confirms the fact that Antipholus had dined with her this very evening. Subsequently, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus share their accounts of the evenings’ strange events. They agree that Antipholus had been locked out his own house, prompting Antipholus to accuse Adriana of conspiring with Angelo the goldsmith to have him arrested. Adriana denies the charge and argues that she had only just given Dromio the money to have Antipholus make bail. Dromio denies that he had ever received the money but Adriana, insists that he had, a claim Luciana substantiates.
Presently, Antipholus rails against his wife only to be restrained by hired men who are told to take Antipholus home where he is to be kept bound and secluded. Adriana orders Dromio to be treated likewise. However, arguing that he has no intention of paying Antipholus’ debts, the Officer objects. Adriana assures the Officer that she will take care of the debt and presently they head off to meet up with Angelo when Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse enter the scene with their swords drawn. Thinking Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus had freed themselves somehow, and fearful for their lives, the Officer, Adriana , and Luciana make a run for it. Meanwhile, Antipholus and Dromio decide that they will leave Ephesus tonight if it’s the last thing they ever do.