The Comedy of Errors

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 2

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ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Yea, dost thou jeer and flout me in the teeth?
Think’st thou I jest? Hold, take thou that and that. (beats DROMIO OF SYRACUSE)

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

What, are you mocking me to my face? You think I’m joking? Here. Take that, and that! (beats DROMIO OF SYRACUSE)

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Hold, sir, for God’s sake! Now your jest is earnest.
25Upon what bargain do you give it me?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Stop, sir, for God’s sake! Now this joke has turned serious. Why are you doing this?

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Because that I familiarly sometimes
Do use you for my fool and chat with you,
Your sauciness will jest upon my love
And make a common of my serious hours.
30When the sun shines, let foolish gnats make sport,
But creep in crannies when he hides his beams.
If you will jest with me, know my aspect,
And fashion your demeanor to my looks,
Or I will beat this method in your sconce.

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Just because I act familiar with you sometimes and let you fool around and joke with me, you try to take advantage of my affection. You pull pranks when I’m in a serious mood. You know, foolish gnats come out in the sunshine, but they creep back into their holes when it’s dark. If you want to crack jokes, first check what kind of mood I’m in and then adjust your behavior to suit me. If you don’t learn this rule, I’ll have to beat it into your sconce.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

35“Sconce” call you it? So you would leave battering, I had rather have it a “head.” An you use these blows long, I must get a sconce for my head and ensconce it too, or else I shall seek my wit in my shoulders. But I pray, sir, why am I beaten?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

You call it my “

sconce

Dromio puns on various meanings of “sconce,”including “head,” “fortress” (which Dromio imagines being attacked with a battering ram), and “curtain.”

sconce
”? I’d rather call it my “head” so you’d stop battering it. If you keep pounding me, I’ll need a sconce to wrap my head with, or else I’ll have to keep my brain in my chest. But sir, why are you beating me?

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

40Dost thou not know?

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Don’t you know?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Nothing, sir, but that I am beaten.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

All I know is that I’m being beaten.

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Shall I tell you why?

ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE

Should I tell you why?

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Ay, sir, and wherefore, for they say every why hath a wherefore.

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE

Yes, and wherefore. You know the old saying: “Every ‘why’ has a ‘wherefore.’”

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