The Taming of the Shrew William Shakespeare (1564-1616) The Taming of the Shrew William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Type of Work: Dramatic, farcical comedy Setting Warwickshire, England and Padua, Italy; sixteenth century Principal Characters Christopher Sly-an indolent, fat tinker Baptisa Minola-a rich Italian gentlemen Bianca-his refined, youngest daughter Katherine-his sharp-tongued, eldest daughter Gremio-Bianca’s rich and elderly suitor Hortensio-Bianca’s other suitor Petruchio-Hortensio’s friend Lucentio-a rich and colorful gentlemen Tranio-Lucentio’s servant Story Overveiw The hostess of the inn bellowed at the drunken tinker, berating him for the glasses he had burst and threatening to call the constable. “Let him come”, mumbled Christopher Sly as he slid under a stool and began to snore. The hostess shook her fist and ran out. At that moment, in strode a gallently plumed lord with his servants. The lord was a mischievous sort, and he, deciding that it would be an excellant joke to change this swinish drunkard slumpled at his feet into a lord, ordered his servants to drag the man to his mansion, wash him, dress him in fine apparel, and lay him in the richest chamber. The company set off to do the lord’s bidding. Chirtopher Sly awoke.
He blinked in the light of the magnificent room in which he found himself. He was sitting on a mountain of cushions;servants bowed to him in honor. Think this all must be the work of strong drink-as was often the case-he cried for more ale. When he was served all matter of food and drink, he objected, complaining that he was a simple tinker unaccustomed to such fare. As their lord had intructed them, the servants informed him that Chirstopher Sly did not exist; that he was indeed a lord who had awakened from a bad dream. Next, accompanied by a sultry music, in danced the new lord’s pageboy (wife), with bosoms as large as a pair of oranges.
Straightway, the tinker-lord wanted to carry her off to bed; but the servants insisted he must gaurd his strength, for he had been ill many weeks. So the ardent husband was forced to sit modestly by his bride and watch a play. As he watched, he became tranfixed by the dream-like drama that unfolded before his eyes: In Padua, an old Italian town, lived rich old Baptista Minola and his two daughters. The youger girl, Bianca, was an angel from heaven;the elder, Katherine, was a scourge from the “other place”, with a mustard-hot temper and a sizzling tongue to match. Katherine had no suitors, while Bianca had two, which posed a problem for their father.
Baptista would not allow the younger Bianca to marry unless someone took Katherine off his hands first-but surely it would “snow in hell” before any man married such a shrew!. Baptista pled with Bianca’s two suitors, elderly money-bag, Gremio and the younger Hortensio, to consider, instead, his eldest daughter. They vigorously shook their heads. The resigned father the charged them to fin a tutor for his cherished young Bianca and hurried into the house, leaving the hapless pair to the mercies of Kathrine. They soon conceded that if either wished to woo gentle Bianca, they must find a husband for her scolding sister.
Two strangers from pisa had witnessed this family scene. One, Lucentio, had fallen in love with Bianca at first glimpse, and he caught upon the idea of becoming her tutor. When his servant Tranio remined him that he had business errands in Padua for his father, Lucentio convinced Tranio to trade places with him. He would be two places at once-on business in the name of Lucentio, and as lover-tutor in the name of Tranio. The two exchanged clothes, and Lucentio stood transformed into a humble schoolteacher, while Tranio, in his master’s wonderful raiment, became a wealthy merchant.
Meanwhile, Hortensio, still pondering possible ploys to marry off Katherine, encountered an old friend from Verona, Petruchio, who expressed a desire “to wive it wealthily in Padua.” Hortensio impulsively alluded to Katherine, but then squelched the idea; he could not wish such a women on his friend. But amazingly, the thought of a spirited heiress was to Petruchio’s liking, and Hortensio at last agreed to help him meet Katherine. In return, he asked Petruchio to recommend a schoolmaster for Bianca-who would, of course, be Hortensio himself, in disguise. Then came Gremio, with a schoolmaster of his own to present to baptista-the starry eyed Luccentio. Behind them sauntered colorful Tranio, also on his devious way to woo Bianca-in his master’s name.
As the beaus lined up to vie for Bianca’s love, each agreed to pay an allotted amount to Petruchio for removing the impediment-Katherine- that blocked their contest for lovely Bianca. Petruchio, money in his pocket, beamed with joy. Baptista had just reprimanded Katherine for her abusive manners, when visitors arrived. he was pleased that Gremio had found a suitable schoolmaster to teach Bianca in Latin and Greek, and even more pleased that a fine-looking, courteous gentlemen,, Petruchio of Verona, was inquiring after Katherine, “Pray have you not have a daughter called Katherina, faitr and virtuous?” “I have a daughter called Katherina,” Baptista responded, leaving it at that. Pettucio, too, had brought a “learned” schoolmaster to teach Bianca in musical skills.
And then still another suitor appeared to seek Bianca’s hand-a colorful richly dressed young “gentleman” from Pisa. What a glorious day! The father had secured, in a matter of minutes, a suitor for each of his daughters, and two schoolmasters. He turned to Petruchio to settle on the amount of the dowry before the young fellow could change his mind. When Petruchio finally did meet Katherine, he was genuiely taken with her, and began to court her amid a battle of wit and wills. She frowened; he smiled.
She called him an ass; he called her a woman. Still passion would not be deterred, for truly she was beauty-though a sour one. When Katherine railed to her father about her hatred for her suitor, Petruchio, with utmost cheerfulness, assured Bapitsta that all was well; in fact, he would soon be off to Venice to purchase wedding clothes. “Kiss me, Kate!” he said seizing her by the waist. “We will be married o’Sunday!” Baptista, meanwhile, decided to betrothe his popular Bianca to the highest bidder. Rich Gremio gleefuly began to offer more and more of his properties, but each offer was bested by Tranio. Finally Gremio could no longer offer anything else and it appered that Tranio had won Bianca.
All this time, Luccentio had been “tutoring” Bianca, not in Latin, but in love. He confessed that he disguised himself to make love to her, and that his servant Tranio was at that moment seeking, under Lucentio’s name, to win her hand from her father. Hortensio also sought a chance to teach Bianca in love, rather than in music. But Bianca would have none of Hortensio, proclaiming the Latinist as her choice. The afternoon arrived for Kate’s wedding to Pertruchio. As part of a campaign to tame his wild bride, the groom showed up late, wearing rags and old boots, and carring a broken sword.
In a drunken state, he cuffed the sexton and kissed Katherine with an “echoing smack” that could be heard throughout the church. At the wedding feast, he grabbed Katherine and, waving his battle swoed, whisked her out of the hall to his shabby house. Baptista, more afraid of his daughter than for her, could only mutter, “Nay, let them go a couple of quiet ones.” By noe, Hortensio found Kate much changed-and miserable. Each time Petruchio’s servants offered Kate food, her husband had contemptuously rejected it as unworthy of her. A tailor had brought her fine linen gowns, Pertruchio found fault in everything. Finally he order the aching, weary woman on to a horse, and they both started back to Baptista’s mansion. Petruchio had broken Katherine’s will.
This plain, rough fellow had weathered her storms and thrown them back into her face. A wedding feast of huge proprions was soon held in old Baptista’s house. A triple marrige was celebrated: Luccentio, at last as himself,had gained Baptista’s blessing to wed Bianca; Hortensio had briskly courted his “ripe plum” of a widow; and Kate and Petruchio were now heart-to-heart in love. At the wedding feast, Katherine’s father drunkenly consoled Petruchio saying, “I think thou hast the veriest shrew of all.” But Petruchio disagreed, and wagered a hundred dollars that his Kate wouls obey his command to come to him more quikly then the other two brides would come to their husband’s calls; Kate by now surpassed the others in courtesy and attention to duty. When the three wivws were summoned, only Kate appeared.
In a seemingly demeaningly gesture, she knealt and placed her hand beneath her husband’s foot. But the act had not brought her down; it had raised her husband up, and showed to the silent guests how much she esteemed Petruchio. “Why there’s a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate!” he roared. He had courted her out of love of coins, but now he knew no greater riches than the coins of love. Night fell.
With Petruchio and Kate gone to bed, the empty chamber was silent-except for the snoring of a tinker, asleep on the floor. Commentary This rough and bawdy play-with-in-a-play is unlike most of Shakespeare’s works. Instead of lyrical poetry and delicate humor, The Taming of the Shrew is filled with coarse vivid puns. In fact, some claim this disparity as evidence that Shakespeare was not the play’s sole author. Nonetheless, it is one of Bard’s most popular works.
The lusty main characters have become models for the shrewish women and the strong-willed woman-tamer.