The Taming of the Shrew
‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is a comedy by Shakespeare. The play is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592. The play has been a subject of debate due to its association to misogyny. There are 2 plots in the play. The main plot is based on Petruchio’s attempts to ‘tame the shrew’ Katherina so that she could be ready to be an obedient bride. The subplot is about Katherina’s sister Bianca and the competition between her suitors.
The play begins with an induction that tells that a drunkard Christopher Sly has been tricked into the belief that he is a lord. The play is being enacted for Sly. The ‘shrew’ mentioned in the title is Katherina. Her father Baptista Minola is a lord in Padua. Her younger sister Bianca has 2 suitors- Hortensio and Gremio. Kathrina, however, is so notorious that it is feared that no one would marry her. Baptista is not ready to marry Bianca off before Katherina’s marriage. Bianca’s suitors decide to attempt together for arranging Katherina’s marriage. Another character Lucentio comes to Padua to attend university. He also falls in love with Bianca and has overheard Baptista who is looking for tutors for his daughters. He disguises himself as a Latin tutor Cambio and asks his servant Tranio to pretend to be Lucentio.
Hortensio’s friend Petruchio comes from Verona along with his servant Grumio. He wishes to marry and Hortensio decides to present him as suitor for Katherina. Hortension himself, disguised as a music tutor Litio, attempts to woo Bianca like Lucentio. Petruchio makes sure that he does not get offended by whatever Katherine says or does. He pretends as if her harsh behavior is actually gentle. They get married in a ceremony that becomes farcical and he takes her to his home despite that she opposed it.
Tranio, in disguise of Lucentio, outbids Gremio for Bianca’s hand but has promised much more than what Lucentio actually possess. He decides to get someone to pretend to be Lucentio’s father, Vincentio, who could confirm the dowry and finalize the marriage. He also persuades Hortensio to drop his claim for Bianca.
In Verona, Petruchio disagrees with everything said and done by Katherina consistently till she starts agreeing to whatever he say, however absurd it may be. This is how he ‘tames the shrew’. While going to Padua to attend Bianca’s marriage, they meet Vincentio. Katherina even agrees when Petruchio says that Vincentio is a woman.
In Padua, as per the plan, Lucentio and Tranio insist a pedant to pause as Vincentio to confirm the dowry. Baptista gets ready to marry off Bianca to Lucentio. However, whom he considers Lucentio is actually Tranio disguised as Lucentio. Bianca, being aware of the entire matter, elopes with the real Lucentio. Huge confusion arises when the real Vincentio confronts the Pedant who claims to be Vincentio. The pedant claims Tranio to be Lucentio, and his son. Lucentio appears along with Binaca, whom he has married, and they are forgiven by their fathers.
Hortensio has married a widow. The three newlywed gentlemen argue their respective wives to be most obedient. Petruchio proposes that each one should send a servant to call his wife. The one who comes most obediently would win the wager for her husband. Katherina does so and, then, gives a speech to the other two wives about the reasons for a wife to be obedient to her husband. The play ends with an acknowledgement by Baptista, Hortensio and Lucentio of Petruchio’s success in ‘taming the shrew’.
It is a play that relies quite much on confusion for creating comic effects as well as for keeping the reader engrossed. The characterization is quite simple. The characters do not show too broad a range of characteristic features.
Multiple Choice Questions on The Taming of the Shrew
1. Who plays the prank on Sly in the induction of ‘The Taming of the Shrew’?
- Lord’s huntsman
- Hostess of the ale house
2. Who is Grumio in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’?
- Petruchio’s main servant
- Baptista’s main servant
- Bianca’s suitor
- Gremio’s main servant
3. Which of these characters is not a suitor for Bianca in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’?
4. Which of these characters marries a widow in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’?
5. Baptista Minola in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ is a lord in:
6. Which of these is Bianca’s suitor but does not pretend to be a tutor in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’?
7. Which of these names was not adopted in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ by any character while having disguised himself?
8. There are some characters in the play in whose case the character himself happens to interact with a person pretending to be him in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Which of these characters is not an example?
- Each one is an example
9. In ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, the person whom Lucentio and Tranio convince to pretend to be Vincentio was a:
10. After Lucentio’s elopement with Bianca, when Vincentio confronted the pedant whom Lucentio and Tranio had made to pretend to be Vincentio, the situation got complicated and one of the characters was set to get arrested. Who was he?
- The pedant