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The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,87976927 (3.75)266
Shakespeare, who clearly preferred his women characters to his men (always excepting Falstaff and Hamlet), enlarges the human from the start, by subtly suggesting that women have the truer sense of reality.



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There was a reason why I chose not to post that many updates with this play. Because they all would have included some F bombs. This play is super messed up and I cannot believe that anyone watches this and thinks, hey this is funny and so romantic. It is not.

Well something nice first. I am very happy that I had the Folger's version which included notes on what certain words or phrases meant, and an explanation prior to certain scenes to explain them to me.

Now onto something not so nice.

This whole freaking play is just awful. I think that Shakespeare was going for comedy and wow. This whole thing fell flat. I wonder how women in the audiences felt while watching this play within a play? I loved Romeo and Juliet. And then we have The Taming of the Shrew which would be classified as a romantic comedy and I am just shaking my head.

The play begins with a drunken man named Christopher who the other "actors" are trying to convince that he is actually a lord. He is told to sit and watch and then the second play begins which is "The Taming of the Shrew". No I don't get how these two plays are related to each other and I don't care at this point. I just want to finish this review.

From there we focus on Baptista Minola's family. Baptista has two daughters. The oldest named Katherina (or Katherine or Kate depending on who is speaking to or about her) and his youngest Bianca.

Katherine is the heralded shrew of the play. She is not like other women and doesn't simper and tell men how nice and strong they are, instead she is quite sharp with men who she feels act like fools. And oh by the way she also verbally and physically abuses her younger sister Bianca. So right away I was not a fan of Katherine. I don't care about her not adhering to social norms by being a smiling simpering young thing, but it never made much sense to have her being awful towards her sister.

Because Bianca is womanhood personified (eye-roll) she ends up having three men vying to marry her.

Baptista tells her potential suitors that Bianca cannot marry before her elder sister (I guess this was a thing, I don't know and I refuse to look it up) and two of the suitors, Hortensio and Gremio make plans in order to get Katherine married off one of them can gain Bianca's hand.

The third suitor Lucentio, falls in love with Bianca at first sight and decides to pretend to be a tutor when he overhears Baptista shouting loudly that he is on the lookout for tutors for his daughters. Then Lucentio gets his servant Tranio to pretend to be him. There is a lot of people running around pretending to be someone else. I am so glad for the Folger's version it is not even funny.

Then we get another man thrown into the mix named Petruchio who knows Hortensio. Hortensio asks Petruchio to get Katherine to wed because he (Petruchio) decides that he now wants to wed since his father is dead and hey it be super fun to have some woman who would do whatever he says.

Petruchio thinks that Katherine sounds like the girl for him and also to pretending that Hortensio is a music tutor to Baptista so that he can also gain entry into the household in order to woo Bianca.

There are way too many people in disguises at this point to keep straight, once again thank you Folger's version.

When Petruchio gets introduced to Katherine comedy ensues (vomit). He decides to use reverse psychology by acting super awful towards her and acts as if what he is doing and saying is actually good and sweet in order to get Katherine to act proper. Yeah I don't know. Just go with it.

Katherine keeps refusing him and he just bowls over her the entire time. Heck even Baptista thinks this is a bad idea after a while since Petruchio seems to be mad. Eventually Petruchio gets his way, and steals Katherine away after they are married and he acts like an ass during the entire ceremony and at the dinner. Afterwards at his home he proceeds to starve Katherine.

God I hate everyone. Just everyone at this point.

By pretending that everything he is offering is not good enough for Katherine he once again has her agreeing with anything he says in order to just be fed and clothed. The servants even get in on this at this point.

And back to the sister who I don't care about at all at this point, and yes this whole thing is a spoiler because why subject other people to this hot mess of a play, Bianca through a lot of hocus pocus mess chooses Luciento. Blah blah blah we have these two hiding the truth from Bianca's father for reasons (I seriously don't care) and now Hortensio is mad because he can't believe that Bianca is throwing in with a servant at this point (because he still thinks Luciento is a servant since Luciento has not revealed his identity) and he decides to run off to marry some random woman that's rich. I think. I don't know. I can't drink at work. I really want a drink.

Whatever. Whatever. I am almost done.

Eventually Katherine is tamed. Cause that's what happens when you are starved and have some damn man you married against your will playing psychological games with you.

All is revealed and Bianca's father is happy that she made a good match and that Katherine is married. Eventually the two sisters and Hortensio and his wife (yeah he got married too, no I refuse to explain how or to who, who cares) and the three men sit around talking shit about Katherine. Or excuse me, the two men while her husband boasts that his wife is tamed and a more obedient wife than the two of them.

The men wage a bet that whatever servant gets his wife to come to the room first wins. Katherine because she has been turned into a woman that always thinks of her husband first comes without delay while the other two wives ignore their summons. Petruchio wins the bet and then Katherine, (redacted) Katherine sits and lectures her sister and this other woman (I refuse to look up her name, I don't care) about how to be proper women and always obedient to their husbands.

So that's The Taming of the Shrew or how one man seriously messed up a strong and intelligent woman in order for his friend to try to win her sister's hand and that woman ended up choosing some other guy anyway. Oh did I mention throughout this play that Katherine kept being referred to as the devil's mother for her actions. Apparently according to Folger's being the devil's mother is actually worse than being the actual devil. Fuck no I don't get it and I am going to go and stare at cat gifs for a while. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Hırçın Kız bitti. Bu kitap Shakespeare’den okuduğum kitaplar arasında en iyilerinden birisi olmakla birlikte aynı zamanda yazarın en sevdiğim komedi oyunu oldu.

Daha önce yazar Hamlet oyununda, oyun içinde oyun yani iki katmanlı bir oyun yazmıştı. Bu kitapta bu bakımdan Hamlet’in de üstüne çıkan Shakespeare oyunun içindeki oyunda 3. bir oyun daha üreterek 3 katmanlı bir oyun yazmış. Başka bir yazar olsa bu giriftin altında kalırdı ama Shakespeare dahiliğini göstererek oyunları birbirlerine mükemmel şekilde bağlamış.

( )
  Tobizume | Jun 9, 2020 |
As with all of Shakespeare's plays, there's always a different interpretation always handy at foot, be it a woman's duty to place her hand under her husband's foot or not.

As it is, though, I can both be supremely annoyed with a society that demands that women be always so obedient, culturally, and be wickedly satisfied that Kate and Petruchio have worked out a true meeting of the minds and wills in such a way as to transcend all other's expectations.

There's a little something for everyone in this classic comedy, whether or not you subscribe to the patriarchy or the matriarchy. Kate gets a lot out of the situation because she's discovered just how much power she really holds with the right partner who respects her, and Petruchio finds a mate that will always be his equal in wit and will. Is there another definition of happiness?

Ignore the setting if it upsets you. These men in this man's world, even Petruchio's methods of "taming" his wife. The method merely demonstrated his deeper positive qualities by the negative, just as Kate's shrewishness belied a razor sharp wit.

Don't we all have such depths and thorns?

I've seen this one done in many different Veins, now, and the one constant is this: There are no victors, merely endless combatants that sometimes sue for peace. It could be a true power struggle or perhaps it is just an eventual meeting of the minds. What do we prefer? That's interpretation. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
As always, a great edition from the Arden publishers. ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 27, 2020 |
"Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench! I love her ten times more than e'er I did. O, how I long to have some chat with her!" (pg. 52)

"He hath some meaning in his mad attire." (pg. 66)

We don't deserve Shakespeare. We really don't. As with the later The Merchant of Venice, the Bard has, in The Taming of the Shrew, given to us an astute, ironical satire of shabby conduct (there anti-Semitism, here misogyny) that seems to raise up such people, the better to send them plummeting to earth. And what do we do, in our limp-brained culture, with our pseudo-academic meathead scholars, our peddlers in the doctrinaire, our po-faced theatricals? We label it a 'problem play'. We tie ourselves in knots over whether Shakespeare was a misogynist and must be cancelled, or rationalized, or patronisingly reworked to 'be better' and 'empower'. The only thing that stops me going crazy is that there's a sort of schadenfreude in getting a joke that seems to pass everybody else over.

Let's take it from the top. No, Shakespeare was not a misogynist. And before you think this is the typical contemporary sleight-of-hand that spouts casuistries like 'people can be racist without being a racist', let me further say that, no, The Taming of the Shrew is not a misogynist play. Just as Shakespeare was not an anti-Semite, and The Merchant of Venice was not an anti-Semitic play. (I go into greater length about that in my review of Merchant elsewhere on this website.)

Consider that strange opening to The Taming of the Shrew, commonly called the 'Induction'. A lousy drunk named Christopher Sly is thrown out of a tavern into the muddy street by a female hostess. Note the gender. (I'm sorry to be leading you by the hand, but a lot of people, it seems, are unwilling to duck as they walk under a low doorway.) There, a passing lord has an impish fancy to dress the passed-out drunk in fine clothes where, upon waking, the unfortunate Sly will not know whether he is coming or going. He is waited on hand and foot by servants, who put on a play called The Taming of the Shrew. Tudor audiences walk into a London theatre to see the upstart Crow's new bawd. They get it.

Leaving aside the play-within-a-play for a moment, consider that the useless Sly, cast out by a woman, is tricked into believing he is a lord. He then watches a play which seems to reinforce the idea that men are to be served meekly by women, while he is waited on by servants. (There is a further thread in the play, which requires an essay in itself, where, just as men treat women with a high hand, the lords in the play treat their male servants with a similar lack of grace. "Help, masters, help! My master is mad!" is said by the male servant Grumio (pg. 40), though it could just as easily be one of Kate's lines.)

It is here where productions that cut the Christopher Sly stuff do a disservice to their audience. This is about a surly man inconvenienced by a woman hostess, who, while lying in the gutter feeling sorry for himself, fantasises a story in which women do men's bidding and all is right with the world. I strongly recommend reading a version of The Taming of the Shrew which includes the other, unofficial Sly stuff (my Wordsworth Classic edition has it as an Appendix, with the Ludlum-esque title 'The Christopher Slie Material'). In this material, Sly, now awake, asks whether he was not a lord after all. Heading for home, and no doubt the wrath of his wife, he tells a passing Tapster that he's not worried because now he knows how to tame a woman properly (pg. 110). Good luck, Sly, you'll need it. The Tapster, no doubt with a secret smile on his face, asks to come home with him and witness the scene. We, too, would like to be a fly on that wall.

I know I've not even discussed The Taming of the Shrew proper yet – Petruchio and Kate, Bianca and her suitors – but you see now how the play ought to be – and was intended to be – framed. As with the later The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew is a clever, satirical subversion of what the more boneheaded still claim it indulges. The lord who bamboozles the hapless Sly even says this mockery is there to "abate the over-merry spleen, Which otherwise would grow into extremes" (pg. 28). Laugh, Shakespeare says to men, at how we often grasp the wrong end of the stick, of how dependent we often are on women, of how we dress in motley to imitate women (female roles were performed by boys on the Tudor stage – the above quotation comes immediately after a line about such a thing). Because the alternative is extreme; it is misogyny, or at least boorishness. Smile, you po-faced scholars! Some of it is genuinely amusing – I'm thinking of the initial 'courtship' scene between Petruchio and Kate ("Say she be mute and will not speak a word, Then I'll commend her volubility, And say she uttereth piercing eloquence. If she do bid me pack, I'll give her thanks, As though she bid me stay by her a week" (pg. 53)). When, in this scene, an exasperated Kate says her father seems to want her "wed to one half-lunatic" (pg. 56), we think back to the sad-sack Christopher Sly, and what words his wife will have for him when he stumbles home with some ideas in his head about who is man of the house. Surely there can't be any doubt where Shakespeare's sympathies lie, for those willing to look beyond the superficial?

The Taming of the Shrew is, admittedly, not as measured as the later Merchant of Venice. That play seemed honed and completely unambiguous in its ambiguity (as I argue in my review of it, the play only works if our sympathy is with Shylock), whereas Shrew does have one or two elements out of balance that can cause unease, even when not viewed through the lens of the boneheaded. Some of the crucial Sly stuff is missing and, without it – and with an unforgivingly modern audience – some of the treatment of Kate in particular seems harsh. Note the scene where Petruchio berates his new wife, and "she (poor soul) Knows not which way to stand, to look, to speak" (pg. 75). Without Merchant's more robust sophistication and form, Shrew takes a few punches behind its guard. But perhaps it wouldn't matter anyway, considering critics still attack the more accomplished Merchant.

As I said, we really don't deserve Shakespeare. An artist who was both popular and thematically astute; who could make crowd-pleasers that also relished in ambiguity of character, structure and morality. The introduction to my Wordsworth edition quotes the critic Benedict Nightingale, who wrote that The Taming of the Shrew is "a funny, touching, coarse, romantic, morally confusing mix of sexism and sophistication", something that is much "better than a politically correct nothing-very-much" (pg. 13). Amen. Even if you don't get the joke, it's always better to have rich colours than a dull, doctrinaire grey. "Here's some good pastime tóward; That wench is stark mad, or wonderful fróward" (pg. 35). Shakespeare delights in ambiguity; an appetite that, alas, seems to be lost in some of his readers. ( )
1 vote Mike_F | Apr 16, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (281 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Shakespeareprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baudissin, Wolf Heinrich GrafTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergin, Thomas GoddardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bevington, David M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Díaz-Plaja, AuroraAdaptersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsrealPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrison, George BEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heilman, Robert BechtoldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodgdon, BarbaraEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jervis, Gerald C.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidnie, M.J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oliver, Harold JamesEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papp, JosephForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quiller-Couch, ArthurEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Raffel, BurtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Thompson, AnnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webster, MargaretContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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First words
Tranio, since for the great desire I had
To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,
I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy,
The pleasant garden of great Italy;
And by my father's love and leave am arm'd
With his good will and thy good company,
My trusty servant, well approved in all,
Here let us breathe and haply institute
A course of learning and ingenious studies.
He that runs fastest gets the ring.
Signior Hortensio, 'twixt such friends as we
Few words suffice; and therefore, if thou know
One rich enough to be Petruchio's wife,
As wealth is burden of my wooing dance,
Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,
As old as Sibyl and as curst and shrewd
As Socrates' Xanthippe, or a worse,
She moves me not, or not removes, at least,
Affection's edge in me, were she as rough
As are the swelling Adriatic seas:
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua.
Think you a little din can daunt mine ears?
Have I not in my time heard lions roar?
Have I not heard the sea puff'd up with winds
Rage like an angry boar chafed with sweat?
Have I not heard great ordnance in the field,
And heaven's artillery thunder in the skies?
Have I not in a pitched battle heard
Loud 'larums, neighing steeds, and trumpets' clang?
And do you tell me of a woman's tongue,
That gives not half so great a blow to hear
As will a chestnut in a farmer's fire?
Tush, tush! fear boys with bugs.
Father, and wife, and gentlemen, adieu;
I will to Venice; Sunday comes apace:
We will have rings and things and fine array;
And kiss me, Kate, we will be married o'Sunday.
Why, Petruchio is coming in a new hat and an old
jerkin, a pair of old breeches thrice turned, a pair
of boots that have been candle-cases, one buckled,
another laced, an old rusty sword ta'en out of the
town-armory, with a broken hilt, and chapeless;
with two broken points: his horse hipped with an
old mothy saddle and stirrups of no kindred;
besides, possessed with the glanders and like to mose
in the chine; troubled with the lampass, infected
with the fashions, full of wingdalls, sped with
spavins, rayed with yellows, past cure of the fives,
stark spoiled with the staggers, begnawn with the
bots, swayed in the back and shoulder-shotten;
near-legged before and with, a half-chequed bit
and a head-stall of sheeps leather which, being
restrained to keep him from stumbling, hath been
often burst and now repaired with knots; one girth
six time pieced and a woman's crupper of velure,
which hath two letters for her name fairly set down
in studs, and here and there pieced with packthread.
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Disambiguation notice
This work is for the complete The Taming of the Shrew only. Do not combine this work with abridgements, adaptations or simplifications (such as "Shakespeare Made Easy"), Cliffs Notes or similar study guides, or anything else that does not contain the full text. Do not include any video recordings. Additionally, do not combine this with other plays.
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Haiku summary
Brilliant comedy,
A battle of the sexes,
Is Kate truly tamed?

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714510, 0451526791, 0141015519

Yale University Press

An edition of this book was published by Yale University Press.

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Sourcebooks MediaFusion

An edition of this book was published by Sourcebooks MediaFusion.

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