The Comedy of Errors: Novel Summary: Act 4 Scene 1
Act 4 Scene 1
Angelo is in debt to the Second Merchant, who demanding repayment on pain of arrest. Angelo says that Antipholus E. owes him the same sum of money for the chain (which by mistake has been given to Antipholus S.), and at five o'clock he is due to pay him. If the Merchant will accompany him to Antipholus's house, he will be satisfied.
Antipholus E., who has been at the Porpentine inn, enters and sends Dromio E. to buy a rope's end, with which he plans to beat his wife and her household for locking him out of his house. Angelo asks Antipholus E. to pay him for his gold chain, so that he can pay the Merchant. But Antipholus never received the chain, and so will not pay. Antipholus E. suggests that Angelo take the chain and the Merchant to his house, where Adriana will pay him on receipt of the chain. Angelo points out that Antipholus E. has the chain, which Antipholus denies, so Angelo has him arrested.
Dromio S. arrives from the harbor and mistakes Antipholus E. for his master. He tells him he has put their belongings on board a ship bound for Epidamnum. As soon as Antipholus and the ship's owner are on board, the ship will sail. Antipholus E. angrily silences the man he believes to be his servant, since he sent him to get a rope's end. He orders Dromio S. to fetch money from Adriana to pay his way out of jail.
This scene serves to move the plot complications forward. Antipholus E.'s fortunes continue to decline as a result of the misunderstandings: now, he loses his freedom through being arrested for debt.
The theme of monetary debt taking precedence over all other considerations of relationship is taken up in Angelo's move to arrest Antipholus E. Only a short time ago, Angelo was to be Antipholus E.'s dinner guest, but the perceived bad debt changed everything.