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The Comedy of Errors

by: William Shakespeare

Act I, scene ii; Act II, scene i

The argument between Adriana and Luciana establishes their chief character traits: Adriana is clearly a jealous, shrewish wife in the tradition of Shakespeare's own The Taming of the Shrew, but despite her faults, she is a more sympathetic character than the docile, preachy Luciana, whose advice to women (like that offered by the Abbess later in the play) is to practice patience and subservience. While Luciana offers the conventional wisdom of Shakespeare's day, the playwright undermines these notions; the problems between husband and wife in The Comedy of Errors stem not from Adriana's jealousy or lack of obedience but from the fact that for a time, at least, she seems to have two husbands. Indeed, her behavior seems appropriate to the mixed- up situation; obedience is all very well, but to which man must she be obedient?