The Taming of the Shrew
Note that the older man in the play who desires to wed the young girl is named Gremio. Grumio, however, is one of the servants in Petruchio’s household.
Scene I: Before an Alehouse on a Heath
1. Christopher Sly, a drunk tinker, is being scolded by the hostess of a bar. Why is she angry with him? What is his response?
2. What, according to the Lord and his huntsmen, are the qualities of a good hunting dog?
3. The Lord and his two Huntsmen plan to play an elaborate practical joke on Christopher Sly. What are they going to do to him?
4. The Lord is delighted to receive some traveling players in his home. He enlists their help in playing the joke on Sly. What is the Lord concerned about in the following quotation?
“But I am doubtful of your modesties;
Lest over-eyeing of his odd behavior,
For yet his honour never heard a play.
You break into some merry passion.”
5. One of the major themes in the play is the battle between the sexes, specifically the definition of the proper behavior of a wife. Barthol’mew the page is asked to dress up like a lady and pretend to be Sly’s wife. What advice does the Lord give his page on this theme?
Scene II – A Bed chamber in the Lord’s House
1. In the beginning of this scene, Sly speaks in prose. Toward the end, he changes to verse. What do you think Shakespeare is telling his audience by altering Sly’s manner of speech?
2. Another major theme in this play is the relationships between the servants and the nobility. What services are available to Sly now that he is a lord? Which of these items convinces Sly that he is a Lord? Comment on the point Shakespeare is making about distinguishing a nobleman from a servant.
3. Who, according to the servants, does Sly talk to during his fifteen-year dream?
Scene I – Padua. A Public Place
1. Why are Lucentio and his servant Tranio in Padua? What do we learn about Lucentio’s father Vincentio?
2. What advice does Tranio give Lucentio regarding his studies? How does Shakespeare help his audience recognize Tranio’s intelligence and education, even though he is clearly Lucentio’s servant.
3. How does Katharina’s father, in on short speech, upset his daughters and Gremio and Hortensio?
4. Find an example of a pun in the conversation between Katharina and Hortensio right after her father announces Katharina must marry first.
5. Tranio and Lucentio eavesdrop on the conversations between Baptista and his daughters. What does Tranio think of Katharina? What quslities does Lucentio find appealing?
6. Prose is sometimes used by noble characters when they are discussing everyday matters. Find an example of this. What are they discussing, and why do you think prose is appropriate?
7. Who thinks of the plan to present Lucentio as the schoolmaster? What problem does Tranio see in the plan? How is it overcome?
8. Support or refute the following statement: Lucentio falls in love with Bianca’s beauty, but he does not really know her.
9. Why do you think Lucentio says “Tranio, let’s go: one thing more rests, that thyself execute, to make one among these wooers”?
Scene II – Padua. Before Hortensio’s House
1. Find an example of a pun in the conversation between Petruchio and his servant Grumio at the beginning of this scene.
2. Why is Petruchio in Verona?
3. What qualities does Petruchio want in his wife? What does his servant Grumio think about the idea of Petruchio marrying a shrewish wife?
4. Why does Hortensio want to accompany Petruchio to Katharina’s house?
5. Define “pantaloon.” Find an example of sarcasm spoken by Grumio that refers to the idea that Gremio is too old to be wooing Bianca.
Scene I – Padua. A room in Baptista’s house.
1. How does Katharina’s relationship with her father motivate her to continue her shrewish behavior?
2. What names are hortensio and Lucentio using in their disguises as teachers?
3. Petruchio defines his idea of a proper wife through the adjectives he uses to compliment Katharina. List the words Petruchio uses to describe Katharina. How is this humorous?
4. One of the themes of this play is to present the reasons people get married. What arrangement does Petruchio make with Baptista before trying to win Katharina’s love? Comment on what these arrangements say about a man’s reasons for marrying.
5. Animal imagery is an important theme in this play. Find an example of it when Baptistadiscusses Katharina’s ability to learn the lute with hortensio. What does this kind of comparison suggest about how men feel about their wives?
6. How does Petruchio plan to deal with Katharina’s shrewish behavior in the following circumstances:
a. If she rails?
b. If she frowns?
c. If she is mute?
d. If she tells him to leave?
e. If she refuses to marry him?
7. Why does Katharina strike Petruchio? What is his response?
8. In the following passage, what does the reader learn about Petruchio’s age?
Kath. Well aim’d of such a young one.
Pet. Now, by Saint George, I am too young for you.
Kath. Yet you are wither’d
9. What evidence is there that Katharina is enjoying her conversation with Petruchio and respects him?
10. What does Petruchio tell Tranio and Gremio about the way Katharina behaves when they are alone? Why is this tactic a clever move?
11. How does Baptista decide who is going to marry Bianca? In what way are these marriage negotiations unlike those between Baptista and Petruchio?
12. Tranio (pretending to be Lucentio) outbids Gremio, but the marriage contract is not secure. What condition does Baptista put on the marriage between Tranio and Bianca? How does Tranio plan to satisfy Baptista?
13. List three ways Shakespeare continues the theme of appearance versus reality in Acts I and II.
14. Prove the following statement. Tranio is an unusual servant and possesses many of the qualities of a nobleman.
Scene I – Padua. Baptista’s House
1. Find an example of a rhyming couplet in this scene.
2. How do Lucentio and Hortensio each try to woo Bianca using their disguises as schoolmasters? Who do you think Bianca prefers?
3. What evidence is there that Hortensio is considering giving up his quest for Bianca?
Scene II – Padua. Before Baptista’s House
1. What evidence is there that katharina is hurt when Petruchio does not show up at Baptista’s house on time?
2. What is Biondello’s “old” and “new” new?
3. Why do you think Petruchio comes to his wedding in old clothes? What message is he trying to send to Katharina?
4. Besides wearing old clothes, list two things Petruchio does on his wedding day that go against tradition. What message is he trying to send to Katharina? How does Katharina behave during the wedding?
5. What is Lucentio planning to do in the following passage?
Were it not that my fellow-schoolmaster
Doth watch Bianca’s steps so narrowly,
‘T were good, methinks, to steal our marriage;
6. In the following passage what is Katharina saying about a wife’s relationship with her husband?
I see a woman may be made a fool,
If she had not a spirit to resist.
7. What is Petruchio saying about a wife’s position in her husband’s house in the following passage?
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my hous,
My household stuff, my field, my barn.
8. Comment on the theme of appearance versus reality, as it applies to the relationship between Petruchio and Katharina. How much is each just the way they appear?
9. Why do you think Petruchio compliments Katharina, in the following passage, even when he is telling her what to do?
“But for my bonny Kate, she must with me.”
Scene I – Petruchio’s Country House
1. Find an example of a joke between Grumio and Curtis when they are waiting for Petruchio and Katharina to arrive home.
2. Why does Curtis think Petruchio is “more shrew then she”?
3. List the techniques Petruchio uses to tame his falcon and point out how he uses the same techniques to tame his wife. Do you think this reflects Shakespeare’s feeling about the relationship between the sexes?
4. Quote the first two lines of a soliloquy from this scene. Who is talking?
Scene II – Padua. Before Baptista’s House
1. What oath do Tranio, disguised as Lucentio, and Hortensio take together?
2. What reasons does Hortensio give for wanting to marry the widow?
3. How does Tranio convince the Pedant to masquerade as Vincentio?
4. What is the purpose of the following aside spoken to the audience by Biodello? Tranio is trying to convince the Pedant to disguise himself as Vincentio:
Bion. As much as an apple doth an oyster, and all one.
Scene III – A Room in Petruchio’s House
1. In what ways is Grumio loyal to Petruchio, but not loyal to Katharina?
2. Katharina likes the clothes the tailor brings, but Petruchio insists they are not good enough and sends them away. Since she approves of them without any mean or evil complaints, who do you think he refuses to let her have the clothes?
3. Why does Hortensio make the following statement about Petruchio?
“Why, so this gallant will command the sun.”
Scene IV – Padua. Before Baptista’s House
1. Why do Baptista and the Pendant, who is disguised as Vincentio, go to Tranio’s lodgings to sign the marriage contracts?
2. Who does Baptista send to tell Bianca she is going to marry Lucentio? Remember that Baptista still thinks Tranio is Lucentio. Why does Biondello tell Cambio (Lucentio in disguise) that “Baptista is safe, talking with the deceiving father of a deceitful son”?
Scene V – A Public Road
1. What happens on the way to Baptista’s house that causes Hortensio to say, “Petruchio, go thy ways; the field is won”?
2. How does Petruchio test Katharina’s submissiveness when they meet the real Vincentio on the road? Does she pass the tests?
3. What news does Petruchio give Vincentio about his son? Does Vincentio believe him?
Scene I – Padua. Before Lucentio’s House
1. Why does Tranio threaten to have Vincentio arrested?
2. What happens so that Biondello, Tranio, and the Pedant can escape “as fast as may be”?
3. What do you think the following passage says about Katharina’s feelings about Petruchio?
Pet. First kiss me, Kate, and we will.
Kath. What, in the midst of the street?
Pet. What, are thou ashamed of me?
Kath. No, sir. God forbid; but ashamed to kiss.
Pet. Why, then let’s home again. Come, sirrah, let’s away.
Kath. Nay, I will give thee a kiss: now pray thee, love, stay.
Scene II – Padua. Lucentio’s House.
1. What “mean” comment does the widow make to Katharina?
2. After the women leave the room, what wager do the men make with each other regarding their wives’ behavior?
3. In the following passages, compare the ways each of the following characters tries to persuade his wife to attend him. Which mane is the most successful? What do you think Shakespeare is saying about the proper relationship between a husband and a wife?
Luc. That will I.
Go, Biondello, bid your mistress come to me . . .
Hor. Sirrah Biondello, go and entreat my wife
To come to me forthwith . . .
Pet. Sirrah Grumio, go to your mistress;
Say, I command her come to me.
4. Why does Baptista add an additional twenty thousand crowns to Katharina’s dowry?
5. In what ways has Bianca changed since the beginning of the play?
6. In the last long speech of the play, Katharina lists the qualities of a good wife. Briefly list thes qualities. Do you think Katharina really believes what she is saying, or is she being sarcastic?
7. The following quotation is from Petruchio’s last speech in the play. Prove that it is an example of irony.
Pet. We three are married, but you two are sped.
‘Twas I won the wager, though you hit the white;
And, being a winner, God give you good night!