The Taming of The Shrew: by Shakespeare - Summary

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      The Taming of The Shrew was the most successful Synthesis of fare comedy. The core of the play is a brutal sex farce the formula of a man taming a Woman. The induction is something of a problem. It is actually unnecessary because after a couple of scenes disappear. Sly is not sure whether he is awake or dreaming. He witnesses the play and then disappears.

‘Am I a lord and have I such a lady?
Or do I dream or have I dream’d till now?
I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak:
I smell sweet savours, and I feel soft things.’

      He wakes up to find himself dressed in new garments. He accepts the new life as truth and is poised on the brink of some unimaginable joy or horror.

      His mind is worked on by the Lord. The Baptista family arrives. Trainio sees them as “some show to welcome us to town.” The audience remains detached from Sly’s experience when he becomes a lord, but begins to share it when he watches the play. Some issues are picked up, which are elaborated in the main play. However, the promise of the Induction is left unrealized.

      The design of the main play is the pattern of wooing Lucentio is the more important wooer, for after all he wins Bianca, and is contrasted with Petruchio. In Bianca’s silence he sees, he says, a Maid’s mild behavior and sobriety. He likens her to a goddess:

      “Hark, Tranio: thou mayst hear Minerva speak.” He is a typical romantic lover. The Second scene of Act IV shows Lucentio and Bianca sitting beneath a tree reading a book. Their dialogue is that of romantic lovers their language and sentiment, and their romantic elopement are surely that most common materials of romantic love. “Bianca takes delight in music, and her wooing proceeds through the device of the music lesson. The major action of the play is Petruchio’s taming Katherina. Petruchio is a man of imperious will. He uses word either exactly, to disclose his plain intentions, or eccentrically an hyperbolically. ‘In language as in action, Petruchio is the incarnation of the masculine.” He meets a worthy opponent Katherina. Their verbal combats are hilarious; they have the sharpness of a rapier. Petruchio has been concerned all along with personality; he really educates Kate and teaches her the inner order of things. His behavior is rational, although at first it appears to be eccentric and strange. Katherine is a perfect match for him as she too is unorthodox. She does not want to play, as Bianca does, the dutiful, submissive daughter. She refuses to be a mere pawn in the social game. Bianca is forced to submit against her Will. The father does not mind giving her to the highest bidder:

“Tis deeds must win the prize, and he of both
That can occur my daughter greatest dower
Shall have my Bianca’s love.”

      The Shrew, on the other hand, is able to assert herself and is not simply a counter in the social game. Petruchio “kills her in her own humor” (IV 1154) for he disrupts orthodox behavior. He does not offer her the ordinary social amenities that she has taken for granted all her life food, sleep, clothing. There is a crazy inversion of motive and action, a sense of paradox in his behavior. This paradoxical behavior teases Katherine’s mind into action. He tries to impress on her the importance of small social amenities by denying them to her. He refuses to wear the conventional dress for the wedding, he rejects clothing which is fashionable. “To me, she’s married, not unto my clothes.” In criticizing the tailor’s efforts in such detail, and taking care to dress absurdly, he actually displaces a concern for the importance of clothing. G. R. Hibbard points out that what Petruchio is doing is forcing Katherine “to see the value of that order and decency for which she previously had no use.” By tormenting her he demonstrates how much love within marriage, as distinct from the romantic love of Lucentia expresses itself through the provision of ordinary decent comfort. In spite of his brutality, Petruchio is not a sadist. He is testing Kate’s skill. She too is intelligent and he succeeds in training her intelligence and skill. The game affords more tun because the opponent is strong Petruchio dispenses with his simple device of contradiction arid laces it with a more subtle an intricate strategy. Katherina obedience is signaled by her submission on the most basic of matters perception itself. Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labour’s Lost are the other comedies in this bracket.

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