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Table of Contents
Type of Work
and First Performance
a Story Within a Story
Figures of Speech
What Was a Dowry?
Did Shakespeare Visit Italy?
Study Questions and Essay Topics
of the Play
Type of Work
The Taming of
the Shrew is a stage play in the form of a
comedy that satirizes
silly or unfair social customs and courting
practices, often through
farce. Farce is a type of comedy that
relies on exaggeration,
horseplay, and unrealistic or improbable
situations to provoke
laughter. In a farce, plotting takes precedence
play begins with an introductory element called
“The Induction.” It tells a brief story about a
drunkard who, in an elaborate practical joke, is
deceived into believing that he is a wealthy
nobleman. An acting troupe then performs a
five-act play for him about how a gentleman from
Verona tames and marries the shrewish daughter of
a nobleman in Padua, Italy.
and First Performance
play was most likely written in the early 1590s,
probably between 1590 and 1592. Conclusive
evidence does not exist to establish the date of
the first performance of the play. However, the
diary of Philip Henslowe (1550-1616), a manager
and producer of stage productions, suggests that
the play was first performed at Newington Butts, a
theater across the River Thames from central
Taming of the Shrew was first printed in
folio format in 1623 in a collection that included
thirty-five other Shakespeare's plays. A folio was
a format consisting of large pages (19 inches high
and 12 inches wide).
specific source for the main plot of The Taming of
the Shrew has been established, although literary
works existed in Shakespeare's time that centered
on episodes and themes similar to those in
Shakespeare's play. However, no documentation
exists to suggest that Shakespeare used any of
these literary works.
It has been suggested that Shakespeare drew upon a
work entitled A Pleasant and Conceited
History, Called the Taming of the Shrew, by
an unidentified author. This play, published in
1594, is set in Greece with a different cast of
characters. It has a plot similar to that of
Shakespeare's play. But no evidence exists that
Shakespeare used this play as a source. No
evidence exists, either, that this play was
nothing more than an altered or corrupt version of
It can be stated with confidence, however, that
Shakespeare based a subplot of The Taming of the
Shrew on I Suppositi (The Suppositions),
by Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1533). Ariosto’s work
was translated into English as The Supposes,
by George Gascoigne (1525-1577).
The action in the
Induction takes place in the English
countryside, first on a heath in front
of an alehouse and then in a
bedroom in the house of a lord. The
action in the five-act play takes
place in various locations in Padua,
Italy, and at a house in the
nearby countryside. Padua is in northern
Italy on the Bacchiglione
River. Padua is about thirty miles west
The tone of
the play is generally merry and playful. The
action includes horseplay, mix-ups, and
improbable situations that provoke laughter. The
dialogue includes puns, exaggerations, and
battles of wit.
Christopher Sly: Tinker found drunk by a
Lord: Nobleman who finds Sly.
Players, Huntsmen, Servants
Soto: One of the players.
The Five Acts
Katharina Minola: Temperamental,
strong-willed daughter of Baptista Minola. She
has a sharp tongue with which she can carve men
into insignificance. Katharina is sometimes
referred to in dialogue as Katherine and Kate.
Petruchio: Boisterous and domineering
gentleman of Verona who woos and wins Katharina
against all odds. Petruchio and Katharina are
the main characters, or protagonists.
Baptista Minola: Wealthy gentleman of
Padua who bears the burden of being Katharina's
Bianca: Gentle but somewhat spoiled
daughter of Baptista and sister of Katharina.
She has many suitors who vie for her hand with
the power of wealth and position.
Vincentio: Elderly, well-to-do gentleman
Lucentio: Vincentio's son, who loves
Bianca. To woo her, he assumes another identity,
calling himself Cambio.
Another suitor of Bianca.
Hortensio: Another suitor of
of Lucentio: Tranio,
of Petruchio: Grumio, Curtis, Nathaniel,
Nicholas, Gregory, Adam, Ralph, Joseph, Philip,
Walter, Sugarsop, Peter.
Antonio: Father of Petruchio. Antonio
does not appear in the play, but Petruchio—to
commend himself to Baptista—says his father is
famous throughout all of Italy.
Ferdinand: Cousin of
Widow: Woman Hortensio marries after he
fails to win Bianca.
Pedant: Elderly schoolmaster who pretends
to be Lucentio's father, Vincentio.
Minor Characters: Tailor, Haberdasher,
introductory event called the Induction precedes
Act I. In the
Induction, a nobleman returning from a hunt
finds a sleeping drunkard
named Christopher Sly. Deciding to play a trick
on him, the nobleman
directs his servants to carry Sly to the best
bedroom in his home,
dress him in finery, and anoint him with
perfumes. When Sly awakens,
the servants are to pretend that he is a great
lord who has just come
to his senses after fifteen years of insanity.
Sly awakens, and the
nobleman then has a traveling acting troupe
perform a play for Sly
called The Taming of the Shrew.
Bianca Minola has no shortage of admirers in
Padua, a prosperous city
in northern Italy. In fact, three young
Gremio, and Lucentio—are suing for her hand in
marriage. However, Bianca’s
father, wealthy Baptista Minola, decrees that
she may receive no
suitors until her beautiful but shrewish sister,
Katharina, receives a
proposal of marriage and goes to the altar. The
three young men then
begin plotting to marry off hellcat Katharina.
It so happens that a
likely candidate for her hand—Petruchio, a
rough-hewn gentleman from Verona—is
visiting at Hortensio’s house.
whose father has recently died, has come to
Padua to seek his fortune
and find a wife. While the three rivals for
Bianca are at Hortensio’s
house, Hortensio tells Petruchio of a beautiful
woman with a large
dowry whose only drawback is her scolding
tongue. If he will woo her,
they vow, they will help pay the cost of
courting her. Petruchio,
relishing the challenge (and no doubt the
dowry), agrees to court
Petruchio comes calling at the Minola household,
Katharina is chasing
Bianca, whom Katharina has just slapped after an
argument. After Bianca
runs out of the room, Katharina complains to her
father that he favors
Bianca over her: “She is your treasure, she must
have a husband; / I
must dance bare-foot on her wedding day” (2. 1.
35-36). Katharina exits
just as Petruchio enters with Gremio, Lucentio,
Hortensio, and two
servants. Lucentio and Hortensio are in disguise—the former as a Greek and Latin
tutor and the latter
as a music and mathematics teacher—as part
of a scheme to gain access to Bianca, upon whom
Baptista keeps a close
watch. Baptista thinks they have come in
response to his
earlier-expressed desire to hire schoolmasters
to educate his
Petruchio and Katharina meet the first time,
Petruchio boldly announces
that he plans to woo her. She reacts with a
volley of insults, and he
rejoins with playful taunts, then tries to calm
Come, come, you wasp; i’ faith, you are too
slaps him. He threatens to strike back if she
slaps him again. Later,
after more verbal fireworks, Petruchio uses
reverse psychology on her,
telling her that
KATHARINA: If I be
waspish, best beware my
PETRUCHIO: My remedy is
then, to pluck it
KATHARINA: Ay, if the fool
could find it where it
PETRUCHIO: Who knows not
where a wasp does wear
his sting? In his tail.
KATHARINA: In his tongue.
PETRUCHIO: Whose tongue?
KATHARINA: Yours, if you
talk of tails: and so
PETRUCHIO: What, with my
tongue in your tail?
nay, come again. Good Kate; I am a gentleman.
I find you
Baptista enters the room and asks how the two
are getting along,
Katharina denounces Petruchio with more insults.
But Petruchio, bold as
ever, says Kate has declared her love for him,
showered him with
kisses, and wooed him with such swiftness that
they have agreed to
marry on the following Sunday. Baptista,
extremely pleased, says the
matter is settled: Katharina will marry
’Twas told me you were rough and
coy and sullen,
And now I find report a very
For thou are pleasant, gamesome,
then turns his attention to Bianca, decreeing
that, on the Sunday
following Katharina’s wedding, Bianca will marry
the man who provides
the largest dowry. Gremio boasts that his house
has the finest
ivory, pewter, brass—and that his farm has one
hundred twenty oxen. Because
Lucentio and Hortensio remain in disguise as
schoolmasters, they cannot
speak for themselves; rather, their servants—pretending
to be their masters—do
it for them. In the
end, Baptista accepts the proposal made on
behalf of Lucentio, because
his father is said to own three large argosies
(merchant ships), two
galliasses (fast warships with three masts), and
twelve tight galleys
(ships using oars and/or sails).
the day of Katharina’s wedding. Petruchio
arrives late on a decrepit
horse. He is wearing common clothes and is
accompanied by an untidy
servant, Grumio. During the wedding, he behaves
badly. First, he
curses. Then he kisses the bride with “a
clamorous smack” (3.2.155).
Snubbing the wedding feast, he carries Katharina
off to his country
house. Grumio accompanies them. It is a long,
cold, miserable ride made
worse when Katharina falls from her horse into
mud. Petruchio blames
Grumio for Katharina’s fall and beats him until
Katharina comes to
Grumio’s rescue. Once at the country house,
Petruchio means to please
his new wife in every way, and woe unto anyone
who thwarts his
he browbeats and nitpicks the servants for every
shortcoming, real or
imagined. When meat arrives, he pretends that it
is burnt and hurls it
to the floor; so, too, cups, saucers,
everything. When he scolds the
servants, Katharina attempts to pacify him,
saying the meat was well
prepared. But Petruchio insists that it was
burnt and declares it would
be better if both of them ate nothing at all.
Katharina goes to bed on
an empty stomach. All night long, Petruchio
complains about the
arrangement of the bed covers, and Katharina
cannot sleep. Through it
all, he sings the praises of Katharina, thus
leaving her little room to
complain about his conduct.
Petruchio and Katharina travel to Padua for a
visit, Petruchio orders
new clothes for his wife. When the outfitter
arrives and displays her
new apparel, Petruchio finds fault with every
garment even though
Katharina dearly loves a cap. Exasperated, she
declares, “Love me or
love me not, I like the cap, / And I will have
it, or I will have none”
(4.3.93-94). She gets no cap, no gown, no
the way back to Padua, Petruchio observes that
the moon shines “bright
and goodly” (4.5.4). Katharina tells him that
the sun, not the moon, is
shining. When Petruchio insists that it is the
ready to agree with Petruchio about anything for
her own peace of mind—says,
And be it
moon, or sun, or what you please.
replies, “I say it is the moon” (4.5.18). When
Katharina agrees with
him, he says, “Nay, then you lie: it is the
blessed sun” (4.5.20). In a
final display of submission to his will,
An if you please to call it a
Henceforth I vow it shall be so
for me. (4.5.15-17)
Then God be
bless’d, it is the blessed sun:
has been tamed.
But sun it is not when you say it
And the moon changes even as your
in Padua, Lucentio has eloped with Bianca; but
father, Vincentio, has vouched for his son and
approved the marriage,
Baptista is satisfied. Meanwhile, Hortensio has
successfully wooed and
wed a widow. While celebrating their marriages
at a feast at Lucentio’s
house, the men converse over a banquet table
while the women chat in a
parlor. Amid the merriment among the men, Tranio—a servant of Lucentio—taunts
Petruchio, claiming that Katharina controls him.
Baptista, well aware
of Katharina’s bellicose ways, agrees with
Tranio. Petruchio then
proposes a wager. Each husband will send for his
wife. The husband of
the wife who responds first wins the bet. They
all agree to the wager
and set the prize at a hundred crowns. The three
commands, but only Katharina comes forth; the
other ladies continue
chatting idly in the parlor. Later, when the
other two wives come
forth, Katharina lectures them on the importance
is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
says, “Why there’s a wench! Come on, and kiss
me, Kate” (5.2.198).....
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that
cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits
To painful labour both by sea and
To watch the night in storms, the
day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home,
secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at
But love, fair looks and true
Too little payment for so great a
Such duty as the subject owes the
Even such a woman oweth to her
Story Within a Story
Taming of the Shrew is a
story within a story. The play resembles the
structure of the so-called
frame tale, a literary work in which one story
presents another story,
or several stories. For example, The
Canterbury Tales, by
Geoffrey Chaucer, begins with the story of a
group of pilgrims on their
way to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint
Thomas á Becket.
To entertain themselves on the way, various
pilgrims tell stories.
Thus, the outer story about the pilgrimage
becomes the frame of the
inner stories, which focus on unrelated
inner stories are like a painting; the outer
story is like its
frame—hence, the term frame tale. In The
Taming of the Shrew,
the story of Christopher Sly is the frame. The
five-act play, presented
before Sly by an acting troupe, is the inner
story. The play has two
story lines: the main plot, involving Petruchio
and Katharina, and the
subplot, involving Bianca and her suitors.
main conflict in the story is the
battle of the sexes between sharp-tongued
Katharina and sly Petruchio.
Even though she vows not to marry, he woos her,
enduring her insults.
But in the face of his persistence and his
kill a wife with kindness" (4.1.146)—she yields
and becomes an obedient
The climax of a play or
another literary work, such as
a short story or a novel, can be defined as
(1) the turning point at
which the conflict begins to resolve itself
for better or worse, or as
(2) the final and most exciting event in a
series of events.
The climax of The Taming
of the Shrew occurs, according
to the first definition, in the fifth
scene of Act IV when
Petruchio observes during the daytime how
brightly the moon is shining.
Katharina corrects him, saying he means the
sun. No, he says, it is the
moon. Katharina insists that it is the sun.
Petruchio says it shall be
a moon or a star or whatever he says it is.
agrees: It is the moon. Petruchio then says
she lies: It is the sun.
All right, says Katharina, it is the sun. But
if he says it is the
moon, she adds, then it is the moon. Whatever
he says it is, it is.
This exchange marks Katharina's complete
submission to Petruchio's
will. He has tamed her.
According to the second
definition, the climax
occurs in Act V when Tranio attempts to bruise
Petruchio's ego, saying
Katharina controls him. Baptista says it is a
fact that Petruchio has a
shrew as a wife. Petruchio then lays down a
wager with Lucentio and
Hortensio. Each man will send for his wife.
The husband of the wife who
arrives first wins a hundred crowns.
Katharina, of course, proves the
most obedient. She arrives pronto while the
other two women sit
chatting in a parlor..
Renaissance Italy promotes inequality of females
by forcing them into submissive roles. The
Taming of the Shrew is a comedy that
satirizes silly and unfair social customs and
behaviors that favor males. Consider that Baptista
Minola treats his daughters, Bianca and Katharina,
like marionettes, expecting them always to do his
bidding. It is he who decides whom Bianca will
marry (the richest bachelor), and it is he who
orders Katharina's betrothal to Petruchio, a man
she says she despises. Consider, too, that
Petruchio forces Katharina to acknowledge that he
is always right, even when he says the sun is the
moon. At the end of the play, all of the husbands
brag about what they apparently believe is an
important quality of a wife: submissiveness.
They maintain that women must be tamed, like wild
animals. Petruchio uses the same tactics to tame
Katharina that he uses to tame hunting birds and
other animals. For additional information, see
The Power of Money
Lucentio gets Bianca because he "outbids"
Hortensio for her, using the wealth of his father,
Vincentio, to back him up. Katharina gets a
suitor, Petruchio, because she has a handsome
Love at first SLIGHT
When they first meet, Katharina and Petruchio
engage in a battle of insults; both use sharp
words as weapons. Does that make them compatible?
Perhaps. Petruchio eventually wears her down with
his acceptance of her as she is. The audience and
reader realize that they are destined to marry and
become strange bedfellows.
Kill With Kindness.
Using reverse psychology after first insulting
Katharina, Petruchio praises, pampers, and coddles
her in order to rob her of occasions to complain.
In doing so, he silences her scolding tongue.
Petruchio uses deceit as a tactic in his effort to
subdue Katharina. For example, in the first scene
of Act 4, he pretends that the meat his servants
prepared for his and Katharina's supper is burnt,
then rejects the entire meal. Katharina goes to
bed famished. His purpose is to make her so hungry
that she will humble herself and beg for food. He
also pretends to be dissatisfied with the way his
servants made the bed, then tears up the sheets
and covers. His ranting keeps Katharina up all
night, further wearing her down. He continues to
exhibit strange and unsettling behavior that
eventually forces Katharina to submit to his will.
In competing for the hand of Bianca, Lucentio and
Hortensio also resort to deceit. Both of them
disguise themselves as schoolmasters to gain
access to her.
Don't Drink and Drowse
In the Induction, Christopher Sly dozes on the
side of a road in the English countryside after
getting drunk. Mischievous passersby play an
elaborate trick on him (as described in the
Induction), deceiving him into believing that he
is a lord who has just come through 15 years of
insanity. All of which proves that in vino, there
is no veritas.
Figures of Speech
Following are examples of figures of
speech from A Taming of the Shrew. For definitions
of figures of speech, see Literary Terms.
walk, we will bestrew the
ground. (Induction, 2.27)
legs that one shall
at that sight
shall sad Apollo
suck the sweets
Sacred and sweet
was all I saw
in her. (1.1.150)
you grow too forward,
do me double
is a way
to kill a
wife with kindness;
thus I’ll curb
mad and headstrong
I have no
more doublets than backs, no more stockings
than legs, nor no more
shoes than feet. (Induction, 2.7)
Christopher Sly, old Sly’s son, of
birth a pedlar, by
education a cardmaker, by
transmutation a bear-herd, and now by
present profession a tinker? (Induction, 2.12)
I burn, I
Say that she
rail; why then I’ll
sweetly as a nightingale:
Say that she
say she looks as
newly wash’d with dew:
Say she be mute
and will not speak a
commend her volubility,
uttereth piercing eloquence:
have heard in how miry a place, how she
was bemoiled: how he
left her with
the horse upon her; how he beat
me because her horse
stumbled; how she waded
through the dirt to
pluck him off me: how he
swore; how she
prayed, that never prayed
before; how I
cried; how the
horses ran away; how her
bridle was burst; how I
lost my crupper. (4.1.32)
death, how foul and loathsome is thine
image! (Induction, 1.30)
Dramatic: Situation in which the audience or
reader knows what a character does not know.
compares Christopher Sly, who is in a drunken
stupor, to death (metaphor).
comparison, the lord addresses death (apostrophe).
Here are examples: (1) In the Induction, Christopher Sly
is unaware that he is the victim of a practical joke.
(2) Most of the time, Katharina is unaware that
Petruchio is using deceit to "tame" her. (See Deceit, above, for additional
show’d a tender fatherly regard,
wish me wed to one half lunatic.
master! news! old news,
news as you never heard of! (3.2.33)
the boy have not a woman’s gift
rain a shower
of commanded tears,
onion will do
well for such a shift. (Induction, Scene 1,
Lord uses a
metaphor to compare the crying of a woman to a
rainstorm. This passage
suggests that actors in Shakespeare’s day—and
Shakespeare himself when he performed in
plays—used onions to coax
reluctant tears from their eyes in emotional
Hortensio, though her father be very rich, any
man is so very a fool to
be married to hell? (1.1.115)
Katharina to hell incarnate.
small choice in rotten
Katharina to a rotten apple.
now, sweet friend, what happy gale
you to Padua
here from old Verona? (1.2.37-38)
Petruchio's purpose in coming to Padua to a
raging fires meet together
the thing that feeds their fury
himself and Katharina to raging fires.
mov’d is like a fountain troubled,
thick, bereft of beauty. (5.2.160-161)
a woman moved to the muddy waters of a
uses imagery that compares Katharina to animals.
example, the title is a metaphor comparing
Katharina Minola to a shrew, a mouse-like mammal that is
mean-tempered. Other metaphors compare her to
animals that require
considerable training before they are docile
enough to serve their
masters. These animals include hawks, falcons,
asses (known for their
obstinacy), and horses. Shakespeare also uses
Imagery that compares
Katharina to objects, such as flowers and hazel
nuts. Both types of
imagery appear when when Petruchio says:
I will be
master of what is mine own:
compares Katharina to birds of prey:
She [Katharina] is my goods, my
chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my
My horse, my ox, my ass, my any
now is sharp and passing empty [very
till she stoop
she must not be full-gorg’d,
then she never
looks upon her lure.
way I have
to man my haggard,
make her come
and know her keeper’s call;
is, to watch
her, as we watch these kites
bate and beat
and will not be obedient. (4.1.128-134)
his plays, Shakespeare occasionally
uses stichomythia (stik uh MITH e uh), a
literary device that occurs
frequently in ancient Greek drama. Stichomythia
consists of brief,
alternating lines of dialogue in which
characters argue, express strong
emotions, and/or exchange insults. The following
dialogue between Petruchio and Katharina. Note
the wordplay centering
on the heraldic terms arms and crest.
come, you wasp; i’ faith you are too
If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
My remedy is, then, to pluck it out.
Ay, if the fool could find it where it
Who knows not where a wasp does wear his
In his tongue.
Yours, if you talk of tails; and so
What! with my tongue in your tail? nay, come
Kate, I am a
That I’ll try. [Striking him.]
I swear I’ll cuff you if you strike again.
So may you lose your arms:
you strike me,
you are no gentleman;
if no gentleman,
why then no arms.
A herald, Kate? O! put me in thy books.
What is your crest? a coxcomb?
A combless cock, so Kate will be my hen.
No cock of mine; you crow too like a
Nay, come, Kate, come; you must not look so
It is my fashion when I see a crab.
Why, here’s no crab, and therefore look not
There is, there is.
Then show it me.
Had I a glass, I would.
What, you mean my face?
Well aim’d of such a young one.
Now, by Saint George, I am too young for
Yet you are wither’d.
’Tis with cares.
I care not. (2.1.209-240)
.Several puns appear in
the above passage
on stichomythia, such as those centering on
tongues and tails, as well
as arms and heraldry. In puns, the meaning of a
word often changes when
it is repeated in a conversation, creating a
humorous effect. Note, for
example, how the meaning of the word bear
changes in successive
lines spoken by Petruchio and Katharina in the
Asses are made to bear,
and so are
you. (Bear here means
to carry a burden.)
Women are made to
bear, and so are
you. (Here bear means to give
birth to a child.)
No such jade as
bear you, if me you
mean. (In this line, bear takes on a
double meaning: No jade (harlot) will copulate
with him or tolerate
use of allusions to
ancient mythological and historical figures
early in the play
demonstrate his knowledge of classical
literature and the ancient
world. The following are among the allusions.
2.22): God of
poetry, and medicine. His alternate name,
Phoebus, means brightness,
and he was thus also considered the god of the
(1.1.34): Greek philosopher (384-322 BC)
whose works in logic,
metaphysics, literature, science, ethics,
politics, and other fields
profoundly influenced the development of
philosophy in the western
Cytherea (sith er E uh) (Induction,
name for Venus (Greek name: Aphrodite), the
goddess of love.
Reference to Europa, daughter of Agenor, the
Phoenicia. She was very beautiful.
(Greek name: Artemis)
goddess of the moon, hunting, and virginity.
1.21): In Ovid's Metamorphoses, a
mountain nymph who
offended Juno (Greek name: Hera), the queen of
the gods. In
retaliation, Juno took away Echo's ability to
speak except to repeat
the words spoken by another. In the Induction,
the Lord argues that his
hunting dog is faster than Echo—that is, it can
run faster than an echo
reverberating back to a listener. Her beauty
attracts Jupiter (Greek
name: Zeus), the king of the gods, who took her
to Crete. There, she
bore him three sons.
Daughter of a river god. She rejected the
advances of Apollo. When he
persisted, she prayed to her father for help,
and he changed her into a
laurel tree to keep her from Apollo's clutches.
ibat . . .
celsa senis (3.1.30-31): Latin
quotation from Heroides, by the Roman
poet Ovid. Lucentio quotes
the line when he is supposedly
teaching Latin to Bianca. However, he has no
idea what the quotation
means but only pretends to know. The quotation
describes a scene in the
aftermath of the Trojan War, saying, "Here
flowed the Simois River, and
here was the Sigeian land. Here stood the great
palace of Priam (king
Young woman with whom Jupiter (Greek name:
Zeus), the king of the gods,
fell in love but turned into a heifer to
disguise her from his jealous
wife, Juno (Greek name: Hera).
Jupiter (Greek name: Zeus), king of the gods.
name: Lucretia (2.1.298):
Beautiful wife of a Roman soldier named
she refuses to yield to the advances of Sextus
Tarquinius—the son of
the king of Rome—he rapes her. For more
information, see Shakespeare's
narrative poem, The
Rape of Lucrece.
of wisdom and war. (Her Greek name was
Athena.) She was born fully
grown in a suit of armor, issuing from the
forehead of Jupiter (Zeus).
The Greeks highly revered her and built many
temples in her honor.
(1.1.34): One of ancient Rome's greatest
poets. Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) was
most famous as the author of Metamorphoses.
MEER uh mis) (Induction, 2.26):
Legendary queen of Babylonia,
famed for her beauty.
Greek philosopher (469-399 BC) whose methods and
influenced the philosophical and moral
tenor of western thought over the centuries.
His refusal to compromise
his intellectual integrity in the face of a
death sentence set an
example for all the world to follow.
of Socrates. She was
believed to be quarrelsome and shrewish.
What Was a Dowry?
In Europe, it was customary for a
bride or her family to
provide the groom a dowry. In The Taming
of the Shrew, Baptista
Minola offers a generous dowry to the man who
marries his daughter,
Katharina. Generally, a dowry was a grant
usually consisting of real
estate, valuables, or money. It was not an
outright gift to the
husband. Rather, it was a reserve asset with
any or all of the
dowry. Although he could not transfer it to
another person, he could
accrue investment income from it for the
treatment of the wife by the husband. For
example, if a husband
committed a serious wrong against his wife, he
had to forfeit the
dowry. He also had to forfeit it to her or her
family if he divorced
provide income for
household necessities as the husband and wife
were beginning their
provide the wife
income if the husband died.
Shakespeare's writings suggest
that he visited Italy,
although no other evidence is available to
indicate that he ever set
foot outside of Britain. As for the evidence in
writing, consider that more than a dozen of his
Merchant of Venice, Romeo and
Juliet, All's Well That Ends Well, Othello,
Coriolanus, Julius Caesar,
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The
Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Winter's Tale
all have some or all
of their scenes set in Italy. Consider, too,
that plays not set in
Italy are often well populated with people
having Italian names. For
example, although The Comedy of
Errors takes place in
Ephesus, Turkey, the names of many of the
characters end with the
Italian ''o'' or ''a'':—Angelo, Dromio,
Adriana, Luciana. In Hamlet's Denmark, we
find characters named Marcellus,
Bernardo and Francisco.
Practically all of the characters
in Timon of Athens bear the names of
Flavius, Flaminius, Lucius, Sempronius,
Servillius, Titus, Hortensius. Of course,
it is quite possible that
Shakespeare visited Italy only in his
Questions and Essay Topics
arranges marriages for his daughters,
Katharina and Bianca. How
widespread was the practice of arranged
marriages in the age of
2.....Do any countries
observe this practice today? What are the
advantages and disadvantages
of this practice?
3.....How does the divorce
rate in arranged marriages compare with the
divorce rate in marriages
of people who choose their spouses?
4.....How important is (or
was) money in your choice of a spouse?
5.....How import are (or
were) position and social status in your
choice of a spouse?
6.....Which character in
the play do you most admire? Which character
do you least admire?
7.....In an essay, analyze
the psychology that Petrucchio uses to tame
8.....In an essay, argue
that the courting customs of today are just as
silly as those in the
time of the fictional Petruchio and Katharina.
(Or argue that these
customs are beautiful and memorable.)
9.....Write an essay
comparing and contrasting Katharina and
comparing and contrasting Petruchio with
Bianca’s successful suitor,
the end of the play,
are Petrucchio and Katharina in love?
Guide Prepared by Michael J. Cummings...© 2003,
2008, 2011, 2016