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Taming of the Shrew


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A comedy by Shakespeare, first printed in the Folio of 1623, probably written c.1592, or earlier, and based in part on the Supposes adapted by G. Gascoigne from Ariosto.

The play begins with an induction in which Christopher Sly, a drunken Warwickshire tinker, picked up by a lord and his huntsmen on a heath, is brought to the castle, sumptuously treated, and in spite of his protestations is assured that he is a lord who has been out of his mind. He is set down to watch the play that follows, performed solely for his benefit by strolling players.

Baptista Minola of Padua has two daughters, Katherina the Shrew, who is the elder of the two, and Bianca, who has many suitors but who may not marry until a husband has been found for Katherina. Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, undertakes to woo the shrew to gain her dowry and to help his friend Hortensio win Bianca. To tame her he pretends to find her rude behaviour courteous and gentle and humiliates her by being late for their wedding and appearing badly dressed. He takes her off to his country house and, under the pretext that nothing there is good enough for her, prevents her from eating or sleeping. By the time they return to Baptista's house, Katherina has been successfully tamed, and Lucentio, a Pisan, has won Bianca by disguising himself as her schoolmaster, while the disappointed Hortensio has to console himself with marriage to a rich widow. At the feast which follows the three bridegrooms wager on whose wife is the most docile and submissive. Katherina argues that ‘Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign’ and Petruchio wins the bet.


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Authors

William Shakespeare (1564—1616) playwright and poet