Menu:

SparkNotes: The Taming of the Shrew


The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare , believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.

The play begins with a framing device , often referred to as the induction , [a] in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew . Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca , who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic or not has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.

The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter 's Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton . The 1999 high school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.

Prior to the first act, an induction frames the play as a "kind of history" played in front of a befuddled drunkard named Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing he is a lord. The play is performed in order to distract Sly from his "wife," who is actually Bartholomew, a servant, dressed as a woman.

In the meantime, Petruchio , accompanied by his servant Grumio, arrives in Padua from Verona . He explains to Hortensio, an old friend of his, that since his father's death he has set out to enjoy life and wed. Hearing this, Hortensio recruits Petruchio as a suitor for Katherina. He also has Petruchio present Baptista a music tutor named Litio (Hortensio in disguise). Thus, Lucentio and Hortensio, attempt to woo Bianca while pretending to be the tutors Cambio and Litio.

A feminist reading of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shew throws up some interesting questions for a modern audience.

We can appreciate that this play was written over 400 years ago and, as a result, we can understand that values and attitudes towards women and their role in society were very different then than now. 

This play is a celebration of a woman being subordinated. Not only does Katherine become the passive and obedient partner of Petruchio (due to his starving her of food and sleep) but she also adopts this view of women for herself and ​evangelizes this mode of being to other women.

Her final speech dictates that women must obey their husbands and be grateful. She suggests that if women do contest their husbands, they come across as ‘bereft of beauty.’

They must look pretty and be quiet. She even suggests that the female anatomy is unsuitable for hard work, being soft and weak she is unsuited to toil and that a woman’s demeanour should be reflected by her soft and smooth exterior.

This flies in the face of what we learn about women in today’s ‘equal’ society. However, when you consider one of the most successful books of recent times; Fifty Shades of Grey , about a young woman Anastasia learning to be subordinate to her sexually dominant partner Christian, a book particularly popular with women; one has to wonder whether there is something appealing to women about a man taking charge and ‘taming’ the female in the relationship?

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare , believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.

The play begins with a framing device , often referred to as the induction , [a] in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew . Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca , who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic or not has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.

The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter 's Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton . The 1999 high school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.

Prior to the first act, an induction frames the play as a "kind of history" played in front of a befuddled drunkard named Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing he is a lord. The play is performed in order to distract Sly from his "wife," who is actually Bartholomew, a servant, dressed as a woman.

In the meantime, Petruchio , accompanied by his servant Grumio, arrives in Padua from Verona . He explains to Hortensio, an old friend of his, that since his father's death he has set out to enjoy life and wed. Hearing this, Hortensio recruits Petruchio as a suitor for Katherina. He also has Petruchio present Baptista a music tutor named Litio (Hortensio in disguise). Thus, Lucentio and Hortensio, attempt to woo Bianca while pretending to be the tutors Cambio and Litio.

A feminist reading of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shew throws up some interesting questions for a modern audience.

We can appreciate that this play was written over 400 years ago and, as a result, we can understand that values and attitudes towards women and their role in society were very different then than now. 

This play is a celebration of a woman being subordinated. Not only does Katherine become the passive and obedient partner of Petruchio (due to his starving her of food and sleep) but she also adopts this view of women for herself and ​evangelizes this mode of being to other women.

Her final speech dictates that women must obey their husbands and be grateful. She suggests that if women do contest their husbands, they come across as ‘bereft of beauty.’

They must look pretty and be quiet. She even suggests that the female anatomy is unsuitable for hard work, being soft and weak she is unsuited to toil and that a woman’s demeanour should be reflected by her soft and smooth exterior.

This flies in the face of what we learn about women in today’s ‘equal’ society. However, when you consider one of the most successful books of recent times; Fifty Shades of Grey , about a young woman Anastasia learning to be subordinate to her sexually dominant partner Christian, a book particularly popular with women; one has to wonder whether there is something appealing to women about a man taking charge and ‘taming’ the female in the relationship?

Lucentio, in the meantime, has devised a plan with his servant, Tranio . Since Baptista is looking for schoolmasters to instruct Bianca, Lucentio disguises himself as Cambio, a Latin teacher, while Tranio plays the role of the master. Hortensio gets the same idea and dresses himself up as a music teacher named Litio in order to access Bianca. Thus the wooers descend on the Baptista household. Tranio, in his noble guise, becomes another official suitor for Bianca's hand, while "Cambio" and "Litio" embed themselves inside. Petruchio, for his part, eagerly awaits the arrival of Katharina; the stories of her shrewishness only further his excitement.

Katharina and Petruchio's wedding proceeds hastily and wildly. Petruchio behaves like a tyrant during the service and then refuses even to let Katharina stay for the wedding feast, instead sweeping her away to his home in the country. There, Petruchio plays the part of an odious master. He refuses to help Katharina when she falls from her horse, beats and berates his servants, and denies his wife food and sleep. He reveals his plan to starve Katharina into submission - to out-shrew her as it were - all under the guise of kindness and love.

Back at Baptista's, Tranio, witnessing the flirtation between Lucentio and Bianca, persuades Hortensio to call off his wooing of her. The two men vow never to court her again, and Hortensio declares that he will wed a wealthy widow instead. Tranio communicates the good news to the lovers, and then proceeds to solve the problem of Vincentio's assurance. Finding a traveling Pedant from Mantua, he convinces the old man that all Mantuans in Padua are to be put to death, and suggests that the Pedant disguise himself as the Pisan Vincentio. The Pedant readily agrees and assures Baptista that Bianca will receive a sufficient dower. Baptista is satisfied and allows the wedding.

Meanwhile, at Petruchio's house, Katharina emerges as polite and gracious in comparison to her husband. After insulting a Haberdasher and Tailor who have come to present their wears, Petruchio sets off with his wife to Padua. They come across the real Vincentio, who is shocked to hear that his son Lucentio has married Bianca. The party arrives in Padua just after Lucentio and Bianca have stolen away to the church. In Padua, Vincentio confronts the Pedant who is impersonating him. Finally, Lucentio, returning from the church, pleads for his father's forgiveness. Vincentio, still fuming, grants his assurance to Baptista and the marriage between Lucentio and Bianca is settled.

In the final scene of the play, the newlyweds all gather at Lucentio's house. The men propose a wager to see which of their three wives - Kate, Bianca or the Widow - is most obedient to her husband. Both Lucentio and Hortensio summon their wives only to be snubbed. Katharina, however, comes at Petruchio's beckoning. The "veriest shrew," in Baptista's words (5.2: 64), thus emerges as the most obedient wife of all. Katharina delivers a speech detailing a wife's duty to her husband, and so the play ends.

Was Kate's speech at the end of the work her being honest or was she just saying that so she did not get Petruchio mad?

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare , believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.

The play begins with a framing device , often referred to as the induction , [a] in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew . Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca , who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic or not has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.

The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter 's Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton . The 1999 high school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.

Prior to the first act, an induction frames the play as a "kind of history" played in front of a befuddled drunkard named Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing he is a lord. The play is performed in order to distract Sly from his "wife," who is actually Bartholomew, a servant, dressed as a woman.

In the meantime, Petruchio , accompanied by his servant Grumio, arrives in Padua from Verona . He explains to Hortensio, an old friend of his, that since his father's death he has set out to enjoy life and wed. Hearing this, Hortensio recruits Petruchio as a suitor for Katherina. He also has Petruchio present Baptista a music tutor named Litio (Hortensio in disguise). Thus, Lucentio and Hortensio, attempt to woo Bianca while pretending to be the tutors Cambio and Litio.

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare , believed to have been written between 1590 and 1592.

The play begins with a framing device , often referred to as the induction , [a] in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Christopher Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself. The nobleman then has the play performed for Sly's diversion.

The main plot depicts the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina, the headstrong, obdurate shrew . Initially, Katherina is an unwilling participant in the relationship; however, Petruchio "tames" her with various psychological torments, such as keeping her from eating and drinking, until she becomes a desirable, compliant, and obedient bride. The subplot features a competition between the suitors of Katherina's younger sister, Bianca , who is seen as the "ideal" woman. The question of whether the play is misogynistic or not has become the subject of considerable controversy, particularly among modern scholars, audiences, and readers.

The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter 's Kiss Me, Kate and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton . The 1999 high school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You is also loosely based on the play.

Prior to the first act, an induction frames the play as a "kind of history" played in front of a befuddled drunkard named Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing he is a lord. The play is performed in order to distract Sly from his "wife," who is actually Bartholomew, a servant, dressed as a woman.

In the meantime, Petruchio , accompanied by his servant Grumio, arrives in Padua from Verona . He explains to Hortensio, an old friend of his, that since his father's death he has set out to enjoy life and wed. Hearing this, Hortensio recruits Petruchio as a suitor for Katherina. He also has Petruchio present Baptista a music tutor named Litio (Hortensio in disguise). Thus, Lucentio and Hortensio, attempt to woo Bianca while pretending to be the tutors Cambio and Litio.

A feminist reading of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shew throws up some interesting questions for a modern audience.

We can appreciate that this play was written over 400 years ago and, as a result, we can understand that values and attitudes towards women and their role in society were very different then than now. 

This play is a celebration of a woman being subordinated. Not only does Katherine become the passive and obedient partner of Petruchio (due to his starving her of food and sleep) but she also adopts this view of women for herself and ​evangelizes this mode of being to other women.

Her final speech dictates that women must obey their husbands and be grateful. She suggests that if women do contest their husbands, they come across as ‘bereft of beauty.’

They must look pretty and be quiet. She even suggests that the female anatomy is unsuitable for hard work, being soft and weak she is unsuited to toil and that a woman’s demeanour should be reflected by her soft and smooth exterior.

This flies in the face of what we learn about women in today’s ‘equal’ society. However, when you consider one of the most successful books of recent times; Fifty Shades of Grey , about a young woman Anastasia learning to be subordinate to her sexually dominant partner Christian, a book particularly popular with women; one has to wonder whether there is something appealing to women about a man taking charge and ‘taming’ the female in the relationship?

Lucentio, in the meantime, has devised a plan with his servant, Tranio . Since Baptista is looking for schoolmasters to instruct Bianca, Lucentio disguises himself as Cambio, a Latin teacher, while Tranio plays the role of the master. Hortensio gets the same idea and dresses himself up as a music teacher named Litio in order to access Bianca. Thus the wooers descend on the Baptista household. Tranio, in his noble guise, becomes another official suitor for Bianca's hand, while "Cambio" and "Litio" embed themselves inside. Petruchio, for his part, eagerly awaits the arrival of Katharina; the stories of her shrewishness only further his excitement.

Katharina and Petruchio's wedding proceeds hastily and wildly. Petruchio behaves like a tyrant during the service and then refuses even to let Katharina stay for the wedding feast, instead sweeping her away to his home in the country. There, Petruchio plays the part of an odious master. He refuses to help Katharina when she falls from her horse, beats and berates his servants, and denies his wife food and sleep. He reveals his plan to starve Katharina into submission - to out-shrew her as it were - all under the guise of kindness and love.

Back at Baptista's, Tranio, witnessing the flirtation between Lucentio and Bianca, persuades Hortensio to call off his wooing of her. The two men vow never to court her again, and Hortensio declares that he will wed a wealthy widow instead. Tranio communicates the good news to the lovers, and then proceeds to solve the problem of Vincentio's assurance. Finding a traveling Pedant from Mantua, he convinces the old man that all Mantuans in Padua are to be put to death, and suggests that the Pedant disguise himself as the Pisan Vincentio. The Pedant readily agrees and assures Baptista that Bianca will receive a sufficient dower. Baptista is satisfied and allows the wedding.

Meanwhile, at Petruchio's house, Katharina emerges as polite and gracious in comparison to her husband. After insulting a Haberdasher and Tailor who have come to present their wears, Petruchio sets off with his wife to Padua. They come across the real Vincentio, who is shocked to hear that his son Lucentio has married Bianca. The party arrives in Padua just after Lucentio and Bianca have stolen away to the church. In Padua, Vincentio confronts the Pedant who is impersonating him. Finally, Lucentio, returning from the church, pleads for his father's forgiveness. Vincentio, still fuming, grants his assurance to Baptista and the marriage between Lucentio and Bianca is settled.

In the final scene of the play, the newlyweds all gather at Lucentio's house. The men propose a wager to see which of their three wives - Kate, Bianca or the Widow - is most obedient to her husband. Both Lucentio and Hortensio summon their wives only to be snubbed. Katharina, however, comes at Petruchio's beckoning. The "veriest shrew," in Baptista's words (5.2: 64), thus emerges as the most obedient wife of all. Katharina delivers a speech detailing a wife's duty to her husband, and so the play ends.

Was Kate's speech at the end of the work her being honest or was she just saying that so she did not get Petruchio mad?

[SLY is discovered in a rich nightgown, with ATTENDANTS: some with apparel, basin, ewer, and other appurtenances; and LORD, dressed like a servant.]

[Enter GREMIO, with LUCENTIO in the habit of a mean man; PETRUCHIO, with HORTENSIO as a musician; and TRANIO, with BIONDELLO bearing a lute and books.]

[Enter BAPTISTA, VINCENTIO, GREMIO, the PEDANT, LUCENTIO, BIANCA, PETRUCHIO, KATHERINA, HORTENSIO, and WIDOW. TRANIO, BIONDELLO, and GRUMIO, and Others, attending.]

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


51oEtvdeAzL