A-Z Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew

“Do as adversaries do in law, –
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.”

William Shakespeare

Awesomeness: 5/10

Because…I loved it. I loved the banter between Kate and Petruccio, and all the disguise-switching, and the way that Bianca grows a backbone at the end. But I’m really not sure about Petruccio’s “taming” of Kate, which involves starvation and humiliation, and her sanctimonious little speech at the end REALLY annoyed me.

Colour: Brown

Date: c.1594

Events: Baptista, gentleman of Padua, has two daughters, Katherine and Bianca. Bianca has about a million suitors, but Kate has none, because she’s not meek and virtuous like Shakespearean women are supposed to be and actually stands up for herself. Baptista won’t let Bianca marry until Kate does, so Bianca’s suitors find Petruccio, who’s willing to take her on for her money while the suitors resort to disguise and deception in order to win Bianca. Needless to say, one of them wins out, Kate becomes a meek little housewife, The End.

First line: “I’ll feeze you, in faith.”

Genre: Comedy

High point: Act Two, Scene One, in which Kate and Petruccio argue flirtatiously.

Interesting fact: The film Ten Things I Hate About You, starring Heath Ledger, is based on The Taming of the Shrew (and is much less objectionable).

Joke: A practical joke, this time: the play is framed by a kind of meta-scene in which a drunk beggar is tricked by a lord into thinking that he’s a gentleman; The Taming of the Shrew is performed to him as part of the deception.

Killed: No-one. Hurrah.

Laughed at: All of them, but Grumio, a disgruntled servant of Petruccio, is particularly amusing.

Musical: No. Unless you count some lute-tuning, which I don’t.

Number of scenes: 16, spread over 5 acts.

Obscurity: 4/10

Place: Padua, in Italy

Quote: “Where two raging fires meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury.”

Role I’d play: Kate, obviously.

Stolen from no-one in particular, but the idea of the “shrew” being “tamed” was a popular one at the time.

Time: Around Shakespeare’s time.

Unapologetically…anti-feminist.

Voiced in my head by: For some reason, Brian Blessed seems to shout Petruccio’s lines in my head.

Would I see it in a theatre? Yes.

X: The Tenth Line: “I know my remedy, I must go fetch the headborough.”

“Yes? Hello? What?” (The Snappy Quip): “There’s small choice in rotten apples.”

Z: The Last Line: “‘Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so.”

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