The Taming of the Shrew By William Shakespeare

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The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Chapter 1: Christopher Sly and the Landlady

It was a beautiful summer’s day in the quiet and peaceful Warwickshire countryside. Suddenly outside the alehouse in the village, there was the sound of voices shouting loudly. It was Christopher Sly, a drunken tinker and beggar who was quarrelling with the landlady, who was trying to throw him out.

“I’ll have you put in the stocks, you peasant,” she shouted. Sly, infuriated by this remark, replied, “You are a contemptible, good-for-nothing woman. The Slys are no peasants. We came in with Richard the Conqueror. Re quiet! Leave me in peace.”

The landlady had no intention of giving in to Sly. “Are you going to pay for your drinks or shall I call a constable?” she shouted loudly.

“I am not going to pay a penny, call whoever you like,” replied Sly, and he rolled over and fell asleep on the ground. The landlady rushed off to find the village constable.

At that very moment, a lord was returning from a long and tiring hunting trip with his train of huntsmen and servants. While he was telling his servants to take care of the exhausted hounds, he noticed Sly lying on the ground in a drunken stupor.

“What is this?” exclaimed the lord in surprise. “Is this man dead or drunk? Look and see if he is breathing,” he said then to one of his huntsmen. The huntsman bent down close to Sly and looked carefully at him. “Yes, my Lord, he is breathing,” he replied, “he is only drunk.”

“Oh!” exclaimed the lord. “He looks like death. What an awful sight!” Then, laughing, he turned to his men and said, “Let’s play a trick on this drunkard. Take him to my house, dress him in fine clothes, then when he wakes let him find a line banquet before him with attendants ready to serve him. He will soon forget that he is a beggar!”

“Oh, most certainly, my Lord,” laughed the huntsmen. They carefully picked Sly up and took him to the lord’s house.

They carried him up to the bedchamber and the lord told them to get ready to play the trick on him whenever he woke up.

At that moment, the doorbell rang.

“Who can that be?” said the lord to one of his servants. “Go and see who it is!”

The servant came back and said, “My Lord, it is a group of travelling actors.”

“Oh, how wonderful!” exclaimed the lord excitedly. “Show them in!”

The actors entered and were welcomed by the lord. He was very happy indeed at their arrival and decided that they could help him in his plan to entertain Sly. He told one of the servants to take the visitors to the kitchens for some refreshments. When he was alone with his servant he said, “You must go and find my page Bartholomew and dress him up as a lady! He is going to act as the humble, sweet wife of our new lord! The lady wife should be overjoyed to see her noble husband restored to health after years of behaving like a beggar, and if Bartholomew is not able to cry on command like a real woman does, then tell him to wrap an onion in a napkin – that will surely produce tears!”

The servant rushed off immediately to carry out his masters instructions.

Chapter 2: The Company of Actors

Meanwhile, upstairs in the lord’s bedchamber, Sly woke up and found himself dressed as a lord with servants ready to attend him.

“In the name of God, bring me a pot of ale,” he cried.

“Would Your Lordship prefer a glass of dry white wine?” replied one of the servants.

“Would Your Honour like to taste these sugared fruits?” said another.

“And what would Your Honour like to wear today?” inquired a third.

“I am Christopher Sly, so don’t call me ‘honour’ or ‘lordship’! I have never drunk wine in my life and if you want me to eat something, then give me beef!” shouted Sly angrily. “And as for clothes, don’t ask me what I am going to wear! I don’t even have a pair of good shoes to put on my feet!”

Just then the lord came in and exclaimed, “Why are you in such a bad mood, sir? You are a fine, wealthy lord of noble descent.”

“Do you think I’m mad?” replied Sly. “Am I not Christopher Sly, a tinker from Burton heath?”

The lord and his servants continued trying to convince Sly that he was really a lord by offering him all kinds of entertainment and they also told him that he had a wife waiting for him to wake from his long sleep, come back to his senses and embrace her.

“Indeed you have a lady who is far more beautiful than any I’ve ever seen,” the lord went on. “She is the fairest creature in the world. Even all the pain she has felt for you, my Lord, and the tears that have stained her pretty face, make her inferior to none.”

At this Sly became interested and started to believe them.

“Am I really a lord, and have I such a lady? Or am I dreaming? Well, I’m not asleep – I can see, I can hear and I can speak, I can smell sweet scents and feel soft clothing. I must really be a lord and not a tinker, not Christopher Sly. So, bring my lady to me, and a pot of small ale!”

Just then the lord’s page, Bartholomew, entered dressed as a lady, followed by the attendants carrying a pot of ale.

“How are you today, my noble Lord?” asked the page.

“Well enough, but where is my wife?” replied Sly.

“Here,” the page went on, pointing to himself. “What do you want with me?”

“If you are my wife you should call me husband, and my men should call me lord,” said Sly suspiciously.

“My husband and my Lord, my Lord and my husband, I am your obedient wife,” replied the page modestly.

Sly turned to the lord and said, “What must I call her?” “Madam,” replied the lord.

“Alice madam, or Joan madam?” asked Sly.

“Madam, and nothing else, that is what lords call ladies.” Sly then turned back to the page, Bartholomew.

“Madam wife, they say that I have dreamt and slept for more than fifteen years.”

“Yes, and it seems like thirty years to me. I have had to sleep alone all that time,” replied the mischievous page.

“It is indeed a long time. Servants leave us alone,” ordered Sly smiling at his “wife”. They all left the room and Sly and the page were now alone. Sly was eager to take his lady to bed and the page had to try to make up excuses to avoid it. Luckily, at that moment, another servant entered to announce that the group of actors was ready to perform a play for him.

“Well, let us see it,” said Sly resignedly. “Come, madam wife, sit by my side.”

Chapter 3: A Husband for Katherina

Lucentio, son of Vincentio, a rich merchant of Pisa, had been sent to Padua to study the arts. While he was talking to his servant Tranio, in the square, about how happy he was to be staying in that beautiful city, he was interrupted by the sound of voices. Baptista, a wealthy citizen of Padua, was explaining to two gentlemen, suitors for the hand of his youngest daughter Bianca, that they could not court her until her elder sister, Katherina, had got married.

“It is no good, I have made my decision, I will not change my mind,” he was saying firmly. “Why doesn’t one of you court Katherina?”

“Oh no!” replied Gremio, the elder of the two men, laughing. “She’s much too rough for me! Hortensio, why don’t you take her as your wife?”

Katherina, who was listening to the conversation, was furious and asked her father if he was trying to make a fool of her.

Then, turning to Hortensio, she informed him that she was not interested in marriage anyway and wouldn’t hesitate in banging his silly head if she had the chance!

Meanwhile Lucentio and Tranio were watching the scene with great amusement. “That woman is either completely mad or incredibly headstrong and spirited!” exclaimed Tranio to his master. But Lucentio was too busy looking at Bianca to take any notice of Katherina.

“The other sister is so well-behaved and modest,” he said admiringly.

Bianca was upset at the situation with the suitors and Baptista ordered her to go back into the house. Katherina mocked Bianca’s sorrow by saying that she would have cried too if she could. Bianca replied, “Aren’t you satisfied with my unhappiness?” and, obeying her father, went into the house.

Gremio and Hortensio tried to convince Baptista to change his mind, but he refused and decided that in the meantime, he would find music and poetry tutors for Bianca to improve her talents in those arts. He said goodbye, telling Katherina that she could stay with the gentlemen if she liked.

Katherina replied sharply, “Shall I be told when to stay and when to go, as if I don’t know what to take and what to leave? Ha!”

“You may go to the Devil’s mother, no one will keep you here,” replied Gremio mockingly and turned away from her to talk to Hortensio.

Gremio and Hortensio agreed to try to please Baptista by finding a good tutor for Bianca and to postpone their rivalry as suitors until they found a solution to the problem of Katherina.

“There’s nothing for it, we’ll have to find a husband for her sister first,” said Hortensio.

“I’d say only a devil would do!” replied Gremio. “I know her father is rich, hut who would he fool enough to marry hell itself?”

“There must be someone we can think of…” said Hortensio thoughtfully.

Lucentio meanwhile, having seen her in the square, had also fallen in love with the beautiful and sweet Bianca.

He and Tranio were now trying to work out a plan so that he could meet her.

“I have it!” cried Tranio. “You will be her tutor!”

“Yes,” replied his master excitedly. “And you will take my place. You shall be the master, with the house and servants and style of living that I would usually have, and I will make Biondello serve you and keep our secret while I go to play the tutor!”

“I will be happy to be Lucentio,” replied Tranio smiling.

So the two of them exchanged clothes and Lucentio explained their strange behaviour to the very surprised Biondello, his other servant, by making up a story that he had killed a man and had to escape from Padua and that his servants must help to save his life.

Chapter 4: A Tutor for Bianca

Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, arrived in Padua with his servant Grumio to pay a visit to his friend Hortensio. Hortensio found Petruchio quarrelling with his disobedient servant outside his house.

“Alla nostra casa benvenuto, Signor Petruchio,” said Hortensio, interrupting their argument. “And tell me now, dear friend,” he went on, “what brings you here to Padua?”

Petruchio told Hortensio that his father had recently died.

“I have come to find a wife and do as well as I can for myself in this world,” he confessed.

Hortensio immediately thought of Baptista’s words about his two daughters. Katherina must he married before Bianca, but who would take her? Petruchio?

“Well,” said Hortensio jokingly, “let me he frank with you my friend. I could introduce you to a shrewish, illtempered wife. Perhaps you wouldn’t thank me for it but she is rich, very rich…”

“But no…'” he hesitated. “You are too good a friend of mine to marry her. I wouldn’t wish that on you.”

But Petruchio was interested immediately.

“My good friend, Hortensio,” he cried, “if you know a woman rich enough to be my wife, it does not matter even if she is as rough as the Adriatic Sea! I have come to make a rich marriage here in Padua, and I’m sure that if it is a rich one, it will be a happy one.”

So Hortensio told Petruchio the whole story about his great love for Bianca and the problem of his other rival, Gremio, and Bianca’s bad-tempered sister, Katherina. He then asked Petruchio if he would help him. He had an idea.

“I will disguise myself as a music tutor and you, my friend, can introduce me to old Baptista. In this way I will be able to declare my love to Bianca without being suspected by the others.” Petruchio thought the idea was a good one and was curious to meet the shrewish sister, so they all set off for Baptista’s house.

While Petruchio, Hortensio and Grumio the servant were walking down the street they met Gremio with Lucentio (in disguise as the tutor, Cambio), whom he had just engaged as a poetry tutor to plead his case for Bianca.

“It is nice to see you, Signor Hortensio. I am on my way to Baptista’s house to introduce him to this fine young man I have met. He is well-educated and will be the perfect poetry tutor for the fair Bianca.”

“That is good,” replied Hortensio, “and I have also found a fine musician to instruct that lovely lady.” Hortensio then explained to Gremio that he thought he may also have found a suitor for Katherina, a man who would be willing to marry her if she were rich enough. Gremio asked doubtfully if the poor man knew about Katherina’s quarrelsome character. Petruchio replied that he was not afraid of a woman’s tongue – he had heard more frightening sounds in his life, he said.

Tranio and Biondello then appeared. “Gentlemen,” said

Tranio, playing the part of his master, Lucentio, “can you tell me the quickest way to Baptista Minola’s house?”

“The gentleman that has the two fair daughters,” added Biondello.

On hearing this, Gremio asked Tranio suspiciously if he had come to court Bianca. Tranio asked him why he wanted to know, and both Gremio and Hortensio explained to him that Bianca was not free because they had already chosen her – both of them!

“Fair Leda had a thousand suitors and so the fair Bianca may have one more,” replied Tranio.

The others agreed that Tranio could also try for Bianca’s hand, and Gremio then told him about Petruchio’s determination to marry Katherina, which would then free Bianca for them. Tranio expressed his thanks and agreed with the other men to reward Petruchio if he managed to win Katherina.

Chapter 5: A Husband for Bianca

Meanwhile at Baptista’s house, Bianca and Katherina were in their father’s study together. Katherina had tied her sister’s hands and was tormenting her to try and make her confess which of her suitors she preferred.

“Please, sister, untie my hands and I will do anything you want,” cried Bianca.

“Only if you tell me which of them you like best,” replied Katherina.

“Believe me, sister, I do not love any of them. I haven’t met the man I could love yet.”

“I don’t believe you! Is it Hortensio?” demanded Katherina, shaking her.

“No, no, but if you like Hortensio, I could speak to him for you,” said Bianca desperately.

“In that case,” said Katherina, “you prefer riches and will choose Gremio!”

“Do you like Gremio then? What do you want? Oh please, sister, don’t joke with me! Untie my hands,” begged Bianca, confused.

“I’ll show you who is joking,” shouted Katherina, striking Bianca on the head.

Luckily Baptista heard all the noise and came to see what was happening. He untied the weeping Bianca and sent her into the house. While he was telling Katherina off, all the suitors arrived.

Petruchio introduced himself to Baptista, saying that he was interested in Katherina and then presented Hortensio, disguised as Litio the music teacher. Baptista could not believe that Petruchio was really interested in his badtempered elder daughter and said there must be some mistake, but Petruchio insisted that it was Katherina he wanted to court. Gremio introduced Lucentio, disguised as Cambio the poetry teacher. Baptista was very pleased and told them he would happily let them meet his daughters. Turning to Petruchio he said, “Let’s go to have a walk in the orchard. You must stay for dinner.”

“Signor Baptista,” replied Petruchio, “you knew my deceased father well and know that he has left me all his lands and goods. If I can win your daughters love, what dowry will you offer?”

“Half of my lands when I die and twenty thousand crowns on your wedding day,” replied Baptista encouragingly, “but be ready for some hard words!”

Just then Hortensio (Litio) came rushing back, holding his head. “I tried to teach Katherina to play the lute and she hit me on the head with it! Then she called me a rascal and a fiddler and twenty more horrible names!” he complained.

“Oh, I love her even more,” cried Petruchio. “I want to meet her.” Baptista and Hortensio were amazed but they went off to bring Katherina to him. Petruchio sat waiting for her. Finally, she came into the orchard.

“Good morning, Kate. That is your name, isn’t it?” asked Petruchio.

“No, it isn’t. It is Katherina,” she replied rudely. Petruchio then spoke to Katherina about her reputation for gentleness and began to flatter her. She thought his sweet words were sarcastic and replied only with insults. Petruchio found her sourness and quick tongue very funny and teased her more. When she understood her rude words had no effect on him, she hit him!

“If you hit me again, I’ll hit you, too,” said Petruchio, calmly. Then he told her, “Your father says you may be my wife and whether you like it or not, my Lady, I will marry you. I am going to tame you!”

When Baptista, Gremio and Tranio came back, Petruchio told them confidently that he had won Katherina’s heart. Katherina denied it all hut Petruchio convinced them that while she was had tempered in public, the girl was sweet and loving in private and couldn’t wait to become his wife! He fixed the wedding day for the following Sunday and left for Venice to buy Katherina some new clothes for the celebrations.

Tranio and Gremio then asked Baptista for Bianca’s hand.

“I am your neighbour and was your suitor first!” exclaimed Gremio.

“But I am the one who loves Bianca more!” cried Tranio.

After a moment Baptista announced, “I will let my daughter marry the one who can offer her the most wealth.” The disguised Tranio was able to outbid Gremio with all of Lucentio’s wealth. However, Baptista insisted that Lucentio’s father would have to guarantee the inheritance that his son claimed to have.

Chapter 6: Music, Poetry and… Love?

Bianca was sitting in the garden with the two “tutors”. Litio (Hortensio) was showing her how to play the lute.

Then Cambio (Lucentio) and Litio (Hortensio) started arguing about who should give Bianca her first lesson.

“After we have spent an hour doing music, you can give a lesson of the same length in poetry,” said the disguised Hortensio.

“What a fool you are!” replied the disguised Lucentio.

“Don’t you know that Cod invented music to refresh the mind after work, not before it?” He went on, “Let me give her a philosophy lesson and when I stop for a break you may play a little music.”

Hortensio was furious at this remark and replied, “Sir, I will not hear any more of your insults.”

Bianca settled the matter by saying, “Gentlemen, you are both mistaken. I am not a schoolchild and I won’t be tied to a fixed timetable. Signor Litio, why don’t you tune your instrument while I have a lesson with Signor Cambio?”

Hortensio wasn’t too pleased with this idea and was becoming a bit suspicious of Lucentio. He replied, “Will you finish your lesson with her as soon as I have tuned my instrument?”

Lucentio added sarcastically, “That will be never!”

Lucentio started his lesson reading something in Latin.

“Hic ibat Simois, hic est Sigeia tellus. Hic steterat Priami regia celsa senis,” he said.

“Can you translate that please?” asked Bianca. Lucentio was now able to use the excuse of the “translation” to declare his love for Bianca.

“Hic ibat, as I told you before; Simois, I am Lucentio; hic est, son of Vincentio from Pisa. Sigeia tellus, I am disguised as a teacher to obtain your love; Hic steterat, and that the man called Lucentio who has been coming to court you; Priami, is my servant, Tranio; regia, taking my place; celsa senis, so that we may trick the old fool, Gremio.”

Then Hortensio came to interrupt them. “Madam, I have tuned my instrument,” he said.

“Let’s hear it then,” replied Bianca. So Hortensio played the lute for her.

“Oh, no!” she exclaimed. “The treble is out of tune.” And so he went away again to finish tuning it.

Then Bianca turned to Lucentio, “Hic ibat Simois, I don’t know you; hic est Sigeia tellus, I don’t trust you; Hic steterat Priami, make sure he doesn’t hear us; regia, do not presume too much; celsa senis, but do not despair.”

After two unsuccessful attempts, Hortensio finally managed to win Bianca’s attention and, making Lucentio stand aside, he began his music lesson.

“Madam, before we actually play the instrument, I have to start by teaching you the gamut,” began Hortensio.

“But I learned the gamut a long time ago,” replied Bianca.

“Yes, but please read this,” he said, mysteriously holding out a piece of paper. “This is Hortensio’s gamut.”

Bianca took the paper from him and began reading. “Gamut. I am the basis of all chords. A re, here to declare Hortensio’s passion; B mi, Bianca, take him as your lord; C fa ut, as he loves you with affection; D sol re, I have one key and two notes; E la mi, show me pity or else I will die.” She stopped reading and turned to Hortensio. “Do you call this the gamut? I think I prefer the old-fashioned one,” and so she rejected Hortensio. They were interrupted at this point by a servant who summoned Bianca to go and prepare for her sister’s wedding.

Chapter 7: Wedding Bells

The wedding day arrived and all the guests gathered at Baptista’s house but there was no sign of the bridegroom. Katherina was very distressed.

“I am so ashamed,” she cried. “I have been forced to agree to marry a man I don’t love, and now all the world will point at me and say, ‘There is mad Petruchio’s wife. That is, she will be his wife if he decides to come back and marry her at all!'”

Just as Katherina ran out of the room in tears, Biondello arrived. “Master, master!” he shouted excitedly. “Petruchio is coming at last, but he is dressed so strangely! He’s wearing a funny hat, an old, scruffy jacket, worn-out trousers and a pair of boots that you could use to hold candles in! His sword is all rusty and his broken-down old horse has a moth-eaten saddle with stirrups that don’t match!”

“Well, at least he is here now,” replied Baptista, relieved.

Petruchio came in with his servant Grumio. “Where is everybody?” he cried. Everyone stared at his clothes.

“Welcome,” said Baptista at last.

“What is the matter, why are you staring? Is there something wrong with my clothes?”

“You know, Sir. That it is your wedding day, don’t you?”, said Baptista, “First, you come late, and then when you arrive, you are so badly dressed” 

“It should be sufficient that I have come to keep my word and marry Kate”, replied Petruchio coldly. 

“Yes, of course. I am only afraid that when she sees you like this, she will refuse to marry you”, replied Baptista with concern. 

“She is marrying me, not my clothes,” said Petruchio firmly and went off to find his bride, followed by all the curious wedding guests.

Tranio and Lucentio stayed behind to plan how Lucentio should procede with Bianca.

“I will have to find someone to pretend to be your father, Vincentio of Pisa,” said Tranio.

“And I will have to marry Bianca in secret,” replied Lucentio.

“Yes, we’ll out-smart that greybeard Gremio, the suspicious old father Baptista and the amorous musician Litio, all for my master, Lucentio!” exclaimed Tranio gleefully.

Gremio came up then and began to tell them about the strange wedding ceremony.

“The bride is like a harmless lamb compared to him,” he said excitedly.

“He’s a devil!”

“What are you saying? What happened?” asked the others.

“When the priest asked Petruchio if he would take Katherina to be his wife, he answered with such bad language that the priest dropped his book on the floor in surprise and at that the mad bridegroom hit him!”

“What did the bride say to all this?” Tranio asked him.

“She was shaking with fear and embarrassment, but her groom just carried on swearing and shouting all through the ceremony. Then he called for wine to drink a toast and ended by throwing the wine at the sexton! After that, he took her by the shoulders and kissed her so loudly that it echoed right around the church! I have never seen such a mad marriage in my life.”

While they were talking, the wedding party returned. Petruchio thanked everybody for attending and then announced that they must leave immediately. Baptista and the guests tried to persuade him to stay for the wedding feast but he refused to listen to them. Katherina was furious and said, “Gentlemen, let us go in to the wedding reception. I see that if a woman does not have enough courage to defend herself, her husband will make a fool of her.”

“They shall go as you command,” replied Petruchio smiling, “but not you, my bonny Kate. You must stay with me. I will be the owner of what is mine!” Then he turned to the staring guests and shouted, “These men are thieves, not guests, that try to keep you from your husband who loves you so much!” and drawing his sword and shaking it at them fiercely, he took Katherina by the arm and pulled her out of the house after him.

Chapter 8: How to Tame a Shrew

Grumio arrived first at Petruchio’s house to warn the other servants to prepare for the arrival of their master and mistress. Curtis, another servant, came out to greet him.

“I am freezing cold, Curtis, and have had a terrible journey. Quick, light a fire,” complained Grumio.

“Are my master and his wife coming?” asked Curtis.

“Yes, yes, so hurry up and light a fire or else I’ll complain about you to our new mistress when she arrives,” replied Grumio, irritated.

He asked Curtis if everything was ready for their master’s arrival.

“Where’s the cook? Is supper ready? Is the house tidy? Are the servants all dressed in their best clothes?”

“Everything is ready, Grumio,” replied Curtis reassuringly, “but now, tell me all about your journey!”

“It was terrible,” Grumio began. “Our lady’s horse fell in a very muddy place and she fell under it and her wedding dress got covered in mud. Our master left her there with the horse on top of her and beat me because her horse had stumbled. Then she waded through the dirt and pulled him oft me. He was swearing, she was praying and… and… and… oh, so many other awful things happened that I don’t even want to remember them!”

“Hush,” said Curtis laughing, “I can hear our master coming.”

Petruchio burst in then, shouting, “Where are those damned rogues? Why was no one at the door to help me dismount or take my horse? Where are Nathaniel, Gregory and Philip?”

“We are here sir, here sir, here sir,” replied the three servants altogether.

“‘Here sir,’ ‘Here sir’,” mimicked Petruchio, making fun of them. “Look at you, you block-heads! You stupid, rag-tag rabble. Have you no respect for your master? No sense of duty? Where is that idiot I sent ahead to make sure everything was ready? Grumio, why didn’t the servants come out to meet me as I ordered?”

“They weren’t dressed, sir. They weren’t fit to be seen,” replied Grumio.

“They still aren’t fit to be seen! Now go and fetch my supper at once,” cried his master, “or there will be trouble!”

Then turning to Katherina he said sweetly, “Please sit down Kate and be welcome in your new home, be happy!”

Then turning back to the servants, he shouted at them to take his boots off.

“Stop! Not like that, you idiots! You are pulling my foot the wrong way!” Then he kicked the servant hard and said, “Make sure you pull the other one better or you’ll be in trouble!”

Turning to Katherina, he smiled like an angel and said, “Be merry, my pretty Kate.”

Katherina was tired out with all her husband’s strange behaviour and she was very hungry from their long journey.

Finally, supper was served. Although the meat was perfectly well-cooked, Petruchio began to shout again.

“This meat is burnt! Burnt, I say! Where is the cook? How dare you serve me with this rubbish, you know I hate burnt meat!” and he threw the food on the floor.

Katherina, who was rather quiet now, said, “I beg you, husband, do not be so angry. The meat was good.”

“I am telling you, Kate, it was burnt and dry. You know that burnt meat is particularly bad for one’s temper, and as we both have such bad tempers already, it’s better that we don’t eat any of it. We will fast this evening,” replied Petruchio firmly and getting up, he told Katherina to follow him to the bedchamber.

The servants were in a state of shock. “Peter, have you ever seen anything like that before in your life?” exclaimed Nathaniel.

“No,” replied Peter, “but I am sure our master’s strange behaviour means something. I think he is trying to beat his contrary, bad-tempered wife at her own game!”

Petruchio meanwhile had left Katherina alone in the bedroom and gone for a walk. While he was walking, he was talking to himself thoughtfully.

“I will take her like a wild falcon. She is hungry now, but I will not let her eat until she gives in and submits to my will, and I will not let her sleep either. I will find something wrong with the bed. I’ll throw the pillows, the sheets and the blankets onto the floor and all around the room! I’ll complain all night so she gets no sleep at all and I’ll pretend I am doing it all for her. I’ll break her mad, headstrong character, just see if I don’t! I know how to tame a shrew!”

Happy with his plan, Petruchio went back to the house to find his reluctant bride.

Chapter 9: A Father for Lucentio

Back in Padua, Hortensio, still disguised as Litio, brought Tranio, still in disguise, to Baptista’s house to watch Lucentio courting Bianca during her lessons. “I don’t believe you,” said Tranio. “She has encouraged me to court her!”

“Well, sir, to prove what I have said, just come and look at the way he is teaching her,” replied Hortensio.

They listened to Bianca and Lucentio declaring their love for each other. “Now do you believe me?” Hortensio asked Tranio. “Oh, cruel love!” cried Tranio, pretending to be upset. “This is incredible!” Hortensio himself was so angry that he pulled off his disguise and revealed his true identity to Tranio. They shook hands and both agreed not to court Bianca any more as she was obviously a frivolous, faithless creature. Hortensio then left, saying that now he was no longer in love with Bianca. He had decided to marry a wealthy widow he knew place in three days. Tranio went off to find his master to inform him that their plan was working perfectly. While he was telling him all the details, Biondello came rushing into the garden.

“Oh master, master I have finally found someone to do the job,” he exclaimed excitedly, “to act as my master’s father!”

“Who? Who is he?” asked Tranio.

“Well, he’s a merchant. He is well-dressed and he looks like a father…” replied Biondello.

“What do you think, Tranio?” said Lucentio. “Do you think our plan is going to work?”

“If he believes the story I am going to tell him, he’ll be happy to impersonate your father Vincentio and confirm your inheritance to Baptista Minola. Now Master, take your lady into the house and leave me here to meet him,” replied Tranio, smiling.

Tranio went outside to meet the merchant. “Welcome to Padua, sir,” he said. “Are you travelling far?”

“This is the farthest I’m going to travel for a week or two and then I am going to Rome and onto Tripoli,” replied the merchant.

“And where are you from sir?” asked Tranio.

“From Mantua,” the man replied.

“From Mantua!” Tranio gasped, pretending to be shocked. “Oh no! Then you are risking your life here in Padua!”

“My life, sir? What are you talking about?” stammered the merchant surprised. “How, may I ask? This sounds serious.”

“Haven’t you heard, sir? The Duke of Padua has had a terrible quarrel with the Duke of Mantua and has ordered that any citizen of Mantua found in the city of Padua is to be executed immediately,” said Tranio elaborating on his invention.

“But this is terrible news,” cried the merchant. “I have urgent business to finish in Padua; money-orders from

Florence I must cash here. What am I going to do?”

Tranio thought for a moment. His plan was working well, but now he had to convince the merchant to impersonate Vincentio.

“Well, sir,” he said slowly, “maybe I can help you out of your difficulty, but first tell me, have you ever been to Pisa?”

“Yes, I have been there often,” replied the merchant, rather surprised at the question.

“And do you know Vincentio?” went on Tranio.

“I have heard of him, of course, and how rich he is,” the other replied. “Why?”

“He is my father,” said Tranio. “And he looks rather like you, sir. I have thought of a plan. To save your life, I will let you impersonate my father. You must come to my house and take his name and position until your business is done in this city.”

“Oh, thank you, young man,” cried the merchant gratefully. “You have certainly saved my life!”

So they shook hands and set off together for Lucentio’s house.

“By the way,” added Tranio casually as they were walking along. “There are some people at my house who are waiting to meet my father as he has promised to guarantee my inheritance. I’ll tell you all the details later. First you must change into my father’s clothes.”

Chapter 10: No Food! No Clothes!

Meanwhile in Venice at Petruchio’s house, Katherina was begging Grumio to give her some food.

“Please, Grumio, bring me something to eat, any food, I don’t care what it is,” cried Katherina.

“Would you like calf’s foot?” replied Grumio temptingly have some right away,” begged Katherina.

“No… no, on second thoughts I’m afraid it would be bad for your temper,” he went on. “How about a nice, fat boiled tripe?”

“Fine, good Grumio, bring some for me,” she replied, but Grumio was following Petruchio’s instructions and knew he was not allowed to give her anything.

“I’m not sure about the tripe, my Lady. Maybe that would be bad for you, too. What about some beef and mustard?”

“Yes! Yes! I love beef and mustard,” said Katherina desperately.

“Mmm, but perhaps the mustard is a little too hot for you,” replied Grumio, teasing her.

“Well then, I’ll have the beef without the mustard,” cried Katherina impatiently.

“My Lady, I cannot serve beef without mustard. How about just mustard?” he asked.

Hearing that, Katherina lost her temper and hit Grumio hard.

“You are playing games with me, and tempting me with words. Go, go away!” and she sat down miserably.

Petruchio and Hortensio entered the room with a large plate of meat.

“Cheer up, Kate,” said Petruchio. “Look how good I am to you. I have cooked some meat and brought it to you. You should thank me for it.”

Katherina looked at him sullenly and did not reply.

“What! Not a word?” cried Petruchio. “Then I’ll take it away again!”

“No!” cried Katherina. “Leave it there! Th-thank you… thank you, sir.”

When she wasn’t looking, Petruchio whispered to Hortensio to eat all the meat as quickly as he could when they all sat down to dine together. Katherina tried to eat some hut she wasn’t quick enough and soon Hortensio had finished all of the delicious beef before she had even eaten two mouthfuls!

Petruchio then informed Katherina that they were going to visit her father’s house soon and that she had to finish her meal quickly as there was a tailor waiting to see her.

“Come in, tailor, and bring the haberdasher with you. Let us see what you have brought to show us,” ordered Petruchio.

The haberdasher brought in a new cap for Katherina and the tailor brought in a beautiful gown. “Here is the cap you ordered, sir,” said the haberdasher proudly. But Petruchio jumped to his feet and dried. “What? It looks like a porridge bowl. It’s so small it looks like a toy.” He criticized the cap in every detail. Even though there was nothing wrong with it. Katherina told Petruchio that she liked it and thought it was very fashionable, but her husband ignored her and, turning next to the tailor, said, “Where is the gown?”

The tailor came forward holding a beautiful, rich dress in his arms.

“Oh God!” shouted Petruchio in horror.

“What kind of fancy dress costume is this? The sleeve looks like a cannon and it’s cut up like an apple tart! It looks like a barber’s pole! What in the devil’s name do you call this, Mister Tailor?”

The tailor was puzzled and replied saying he had followed his instructions and the current fashion. Katherina insisted that she liked the gown and complained to Petruchio that he was trying to make a puppet out of her, hut he was not listening. He wanted to know what instructions Grumio had given the tailor about the design of the dress. Grumio then began to argue with the tailor about what he had said and finally Petruchio ordered the tailor to take the gown back. He whispered to Hortensio to go and pay the tailor secretly for his fine work. Then, turning back to Katherina, he said, “Come, my Kate, we will go to your father’s house in our everyday clothes. It is the mind that makes the body rich.” Katherina was not pleased at the idea of arriving at her father’s house as a new bride without any finery, but they set off for Padua as her husband wished.

Chapter 11: Two Vincentios!

In Padua, Tranio, still impersonating his master Lucentio, and the merchant, dressed as Vincentio, went to Baptista’s house. Biondello met them outside.

“Have you told Baptista we are coming?” inquired Tranio.

“Yes,” replied Biondello. “I told him your father was coming to Padua today.”

They knocked on the door and a servant opened it. Baptista came to greet them.

“Signor Baptista, it is a great pleasure to see you again,” said Tranio. Then as they followed Baptista inside, he added jokingly, “Now you must act as a father to me, sir, by confirming my inheritance – the beautiful Bianca!”

The merchant stepped forward and addressed Baptista. “Sir, I have come to Padua unexpectedly on business and my son Lucentio has told me of the serious attachment which has grown between your daughter and himself. As I have heard well of you and know the two children love each other, I would be pleased to consent to their marriage. If we can reach an agreement regarding the marriage settlement, will you consent to the match?”

Baptista replied, “It is true that your son and my daughter seem to love each other and if you can guarantee a sufficient inheritance for your son, then I shall happily consent to their marriage. Now, we should sit down and discuss the details, hut not here. I don’t want the servants to listen – they are very curious.”

So Baptista, Tranio and the merchant arranged to meet at Tranio’s house later where a scribe would be present to draw up the necessary documents.

Meanwhile Petruchio, Katherina and Hortensio were leaving Petruchio’s house for Padua. It was a beautiful sunny day and Katherina was looking forward to seeing her family again. While the three of them were walking to their horses, Petruchio suddenly pointed to the sky and exclaimed loudly, “Good Lord, look how brightly the moon is shining!”

Katherina looked at Petruchio in surprise and corrected him, “The moon? You mean the sun. There is no moon now, it is the middle of the day!”

But Petruchio insisted that it was the moon they could see. Katherina replied impatiently that she knew it was the sun. Petruchio, still following his plan to tame his argumentative wife, now pretended to be annoyed. “It will be the moon or a star or whatever I want it to be!” he replied angrily and told Hortensio to put the horses away. He had changed his mind, they were not going to Padua. Hortensio whispered to Katherina, “Say what he wants madam or we shall never leave today!”

Katherina realised now that if she wanted to go to Padua she must try to please her strange husband. So she agreed with him quickly, saying that she had made a mistake.

Petruchio, smiling to himself, then immediately changed his mind, and said it was the sun they could see! Katherina was beginning to lose her patience but fortunately they were interrupted by the arrival of an old man.

Petruchio decided to test Katherina’s obedience again and, approaching the old man, said loudly, “Good morning, Madam. Where are you going?”

Without waiting for the surprised old man’s reply, he turned to Katherina and said, “Tell me honestly, Kate, have you ever seen a more radiant, beautiful woman?”

Then addressing the old man again, “Fair lovely lady, once more good day to you.”

Katherina looked at her husband, thought for a moment, then said politely to the old man, “What a beautiful, sweet young woman you are, my dear! Your parents are very lucky to have such a lovely child, and the man who marries you will be lucky too.”

Petruchio, secretly delighted with the success of his plan, pretended to be astonished at her words and asked his wife if she were going mad? Couldn’t she see that this was an old man, nor a girl? Katherina went red and everyone waited for her to lose her temper, but instead she replied meekly that she was sorry and that the sun had got in her eyes.

Petruchio asked the old man who he was and where he was going. He replied, “My name is Vincentio. I live in Pisa, and I am going to Padua on a surprise visit to my son.”

“What is your son’s name?” inquired Petruchio. “Perhaps I know him.”

“Lucentio,” replied the man.

Petruchio, realising who Vincentio was, said, “It is a pleasure to meet you, sir! We are almost related, as my wife’s sister is about to marry your son!”

Vincentio was shocked. “Is this true, sir, or are you playing one of your jokes on me?” he demanded. Hortensio, seeing the old man’s alarm, stepped forward and said calmly, “I can assure you sir, it is true. But please don’t worry. The girl is from a wealthy, reputable family and suitable to be the wife of any noble gentleman.”

Vincentio was relieved and agreed that they should continue their journey to Padua together.

Chapter 12: A Wife’s Duty

When they arrived at Lucentio’s house, Vincentio invited Petruchio and Katherina to come in for something to drink and knocked loudly on the door. The merchant, still impersonating Vincentio, looked out of an upstairs window and shouted, “Who is that knocking so loudly?” “Is Signor Lucentio there, sir?” asked Vincentio.

“Yes, but he is busy,” replied the merchant.

“Please tell Signor Lucentio that his father is here to see him from Pisa.”

The merchant replied rudely that that was impossible, because he was Lucentio’s father.

“What does this mean?” cried Petruchio, turning to Vincentio. “Are you pretending to be another man?”

The merchant shouted, “Stop that criminal! That man is going to cheat someone by impersonating me!”

Vincentio couldn’t believe his ears. Then Biondello arrived. When he saw the real Vincentio, his master’s father, he froze in horror. Vincentio saw him and called out, “Come here, Biondello, you rogue!”

But Biondello pretended that he had never seen him before! Vincentio was furious and started heating him with his stick. The merchant called Baptista and Tranio, and they all rushed downstairs to save poor Biondello. Tranio shouted at Vincentio, “Who do you think you are, heating my servant?”

“Who am I?” demanded Vincentio furiously. “Who are you, sir?” Then, looking closer, he saw that it was Tranio, his son’s servant!

“Good heavens! Look how richly my son’s servant is dressed! They’re living like princes in Padua at my expense! And I thought he was studying hard at university!” he exclaimed.

Tranio, anxious that their plan should not fail and Baptista discover everything, continued the pretence saying, “What business is it of yours, sir, if I wear rich clothes? I thank my good father that I can afford them.”

“Your father,” replied Vincentio angrily, “is a sail-maker in Bergamo!”

Baptista tried to convince Vincentio that Tranio was in fact Lucentio, but at this point Vincentio became afraid. Perhaps the servant Tranio had killed his son and taken his place? He called for a policeman to come and arrest him. Tranio replied by calling for a policeman to arrest Vincentio as an impostor instead!

At that moment, Lucentio (who had married Bianca in secret while the others were discussing the marriage agreement) and his new bride arrived. He saw the two Vincentios, his real father and his pretend father, understood what had happened and immediately kneeled in front of Vincentio to humbly ask for his forgiveness.

A great banquet was held that night to celebrate the wedding. All the guests were sitting round the enormous table covered with delicious food and Lucentio gave a speech to welcome them to the feast.

“Now everything has worked out happily and we can laugh about the past,” he said smiling. “My dear Bianca, please welcome my father and I will welcome yours. Brother Petruchio and sister Katherina, and you Hortensio with your loving widow, you are all welcome to my house. Now everybody, please, enjoy the feast.”

As they were eating, Petruchio commented that he thought Hortensio was rather afraid of his new wife. The widow heard this remark and answered sharply, “A man who feels giddy thinks the world is turning around him.”

Katherina asked the widow what she meant. The widow replied maliciously, “I heard your husband was having problems with a certain shrew who was making his life miserable. The experience has left him so disillusioned that he now judges everyone else’s marriage by his own!”

“How dare you say such a thing!” retorted Katherina hotly, and the two women began to quarrel. In the end, Bianca led them away into another room, leaving the men alone. They began to discuss their wives and everyone agreed that Petruchio had the most shrewish wife of the party. He replied that he wanted to propose a wager to prove that his wife was no longer a shrew. “Each of us will send for our wives and the husband of the first wife to come will win the bet.”

“How much shall we bet?” asked Hortensio.

“Twenty crowns,” suggested Lucentio. Petruchio laughed at him and said, “I would risk twenty crowns on my hawk or hound, but twenty times that amount on my wife!”

“Well, a hundred then,” replied Lucentio, who was sure his wife would win. The other two agreed, and Lucentio sent Biondello to call Bianca.

A few minutes later Biondello came back and said that Bianca could not come because, she was busy talking.

Petruchio smiled to himself. Then it was Hortensio’s turn. He told Biondello to go and call the widow.

Biondello came back and said that she said she would not come and that if Hortensio wanted her, he must go to her. Petruchio laughed out loud. Then he called Grumio and told him, “Go to your mistress and tell her that I command her to come.”

The other men were sure Katherina would not come, but at that moment, she entered the room! Looking at Petruchio she asked quietly, “Did you want me for something, sir?”

Petruchio told her to go and fetch the other two women. Baptista was so surprised at the change in his difficult daughter that he promised to double her dowry on the spot!

The three women came back together and Petruchio told Katherina to explain to the others what the duties of a good wife were. Katherina told the women that they should respect their husbands and, like a prince’s subject, should serve and obey without question. Petruchio pulled his wife into his arms and kissed her warmly.

“Well done, Petruchio!” cried Hortensio. “You really have tamed the shrew!”


3 thoughts on “The Taming of the Shrew By William Shakespeare

  1. EnOn - English Online says:

    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.

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