The unmarried sister of Adriana, Luciana counsels her jealous sister to suppress her negative emotions and have patience with her possibly adulterous husband. When Luciana in turn counsels S. Antipholus to be more loving to Adriana, S. Antipholus falls in love with Luciana herself. Luciana then tells Adriana about S. Antipholus’s affection, greatly upsetting her sister. Luciana supports Adriana as she tries to cure E. Antipholus of his madness.
At first glance, Luciana seems to be something of a model of antifeminism: she seems to find truth in the notion that a woman’s place is in the home, and that a wife should be generally subservient to her husband. Luciana implores Adriana to harbor no jealousy over her husband’s possible relations with other women, even though E. Antipholus’s references to the Courtesan seem to indicate that Adriana’s jealousy is justifiable. Later, in her conversation with S. Antipholus, whom she understands to be E. Antipholus, Luciana seems to be dismissing any possible infidelity on his behalf as acceptable, as long as he makes an effort to show affection for his wife.
On the other hand, Luciana could simply be understood as attempting to mediate between her sister and her brother-in-law. She eventually decries Adriana’s jealousy not as, say, unwomanly or unbecoming of a wife but as ‘‘self-harming’’; ultimately, then, her interest seems to lie in Adriana’s personal well-being. Also, while she allows for the possibility of E. Antipholus committing adultery, she may simply be wise enough to realize that her counsel is not going to prevent E. Antipholus from slighting his wife. He is obviously antagonistic and perhaps regularly abusive, as evidenced by his frequent beatings of E. Dromio and his declared intent to assault and even ‘‘disfigure’’ Adriana for her actions that day. In this sense, she may simply be a realist. Also, in referring to any possible adultery, in the course of just seven lines she pointedly uses the words ‘‘false love,’’ ‘‘shame,’’ ‘‘disloyalty,’’ ‘‘vice,’’ ‘‘tainted,’’ and ‘‘sin,’’ perhaps in a more subtle attempt to prevent just such adultery from occurring. Overall, then, Luciana can perhaps be understood as primarily an advocate and agent of reconciliation.
Shakespeare for Students:Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare’s Plays & Poetry, Second Edition, Volume 1, authored by Anne Marie Hacht & Cynthia Burnstein, published by Thomson-Gale, 2007