Angelo the goldsmith apologizes to the Second Ephesus Merchant who has canceled his trip to Persia on account of Antipholus’ refusal to pay for Angelo’s gold necklace. Still, Angelo vouches for Antipholus’ word and honor and wonders what could have come over Antipholus that he would compromise his word and honor when Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse enter the scene.
Presently, Angelo chides Antipholus for besmirching his honor and thereby causing the Merchant to cancel his trip. Likewise the Merchant rebukes Antipholus, prompting Antipholus to dare the Merchant to back up his words by drawing his sword. The Merchant obliges when Adriana, Luciana, the Courtezan, and others approach, prompting Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse to hide in a nearby abbey.
When Adriana tries to have her hired hands to go into the abbey and apprehend her husband, the abbess bars Adriana from carrying out her objective. Adriana argues that her husband is out of his mind, and that she will see to his recovery. However, the abbess denies Adriana, arguing that Antipholus has sought sanctuary in the abbey which the abbess is obligated to grant, and that she herself—the abbess—will see to Antipholus’ recovery.
Unsatisfied, Adriana decides to take her case to the Duke when the Duke and his party, who are on their way to see to the old, unfortunate Syracusan merchant Egeon’s execution, are seen approaching in the distant. By and by, Adriana engages the Duke, making her case for her husband’s release from the abbey. On account of Antipholus of Ephesus’ exemplary service to the Duke, the Duke promises to do what he can on behalf of Adriana when a messenger arrives to warn Adriana that her husband and his servant are on the loose, of how they managed to free themselves, of how they beat the household servants, of how they abused Doctor Pinch, and of how Antipholus is now promising retribution on his wife who has put him through such an ordeal.
Presently, Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus enter the scene. Citing his service done on behalf of the Duke (Antipholus had saved the Duke’s life in battle), Antipholus explains the wrongs done unto him today by his wife and her confederates and appeals for justice. But Adriana denies that she had locked her husband out of his own house, and Angelo avows that Antipholus was in possession of the gold chain which Antipholus denies of ever having received. To confuse matters further, Adriana, Angelo, and the Courtezan avow that they just saw Antipholus enter the abbey, which Antipholus presently denies.
By and by, the old Syracusan merchant Egeon, who is slated to be executed, asks to speak and is granted his wish. Egeon speaks to Antipholus, reminding the latter of their filial ties (they are father and son), but Antipholus denies of ever having met Egeon. The Duke substantiates Antipholus’ claim, arguing that Antipholus has been in the Duke’s service all these years and has never set foot in Egeon’s home Syracuse.
Presently, accompanied by Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse, the abbess appears. Dromio of Syracuse recognizes Egeon and wonders why he is bound. Upon mention of Egeon’s name, the abbess reveals that she is Egeon’s wife Aemilia who was separated from her husband and sons midst a storm at sea.
Quickly it becomes apparent to all concerned what has happened. The Antipholuses of Syracuse and Ephesus, not to mention the Dromios of Syracuse and Ephesus, are twins and their dual presence in Ephesus has caused all the confusion. By and by, the abbess invites all to enter the abbey where all grievances will be addressed and where they will make merry in light of the day’s events which are both extraordinary and funny.