The Taming of the Shrew
CHRISTOPHER SLY, a tinker.
Hostess, Page, Players,
Huntsmen, and Servants.
BAPTISTA a rich gentleman of Padua. VINCENTIO an old gentleman of Pisa. LUCENTIO son to Vincentio, in love with Bianca. PETRUCHIO a gentleman of Verona, a suitor to
suitors to Bianca.
servants to Lucentio.
servants to Petruchio.
A PEDANTKATHARINA the shrew,
daughters to Baptista.
WIDOWTailor, Haberdasher, and servants attending
on BAPTISTA and PETRUCHIO
SCENE is set in Padua, and Petruchio's country house.
The Contents of the Play.
Katharine was the eldest daughter of Baptista, a rich gentleman of Padua. She was a lady of such a disobedient spirit and fiery temper, that she was known in Padua by the name Katharine the Shrew. It seemed impossible that any gentleman would ever marry this lady, and therefore Baptista, her father, has given refusal to many excellent offers that were made to her gentle sister Bianca, putting off all Bianca's suitors with this excuse, that when the eldest sister will be married, only then they could make their offers to young Bianca.
It happened, however, that a gentleman, named Petruchio, came to Padua, purposely to look out for a wife. Being not confused by reputation of Katharine and hearing that she was rich and handsome decided to marry her, and to tame after a wedding. And truly nobody was so suited for this work as Petruchio, whose spirit was as high as Katharine's.
At first Petruchio went to Katharine and applied to Baptista to ask him the hand of his daughter, saying, that having heard of her best full modesty and mild behavior, he had come from Verona to solicit her lovely. Her father warned Petruchio that Katharine would be not happy to hear such news, but being glad to get Katharine married, he answered that he would give her twenty thousand crowns for her dowry, and half his estate after his death; so this contract was quickly agreed, and Baptista went to inform his shrewish daughter of such an offer, and sent her to Petruchio to talk to him.
At the same time Petruchio discussed with himself the mode of courtship he should followed. Katharine would did not like the set of things, she in loud and angry terms had showed him how justly she had got the name of Shrew, while he still was praising her in sweet words. And when Baptista entered, Petruchio told him that his daughter had met him kindly, and that she had promised to be married the next Sunday. Katharine answered that she would rather see him hanged on Sunday, and reproached her father for wishing to wed her to such a mad person as Petruchio. Petruchio asked her father not to pay attention to her angry words, for they had agreed that she should seem reluctant before him, but that when they were alone he had found her very fond and loving.
On the Sunday all the wedding guests were assembled, but they waited long before Petruchio came, and Katharine even cried of disappointment and thought that Petruchio had been only jesting at her. At last, however, he appeared; but he did not bring any wedding dress which he promised to Katharine, and he was dressed himself not like a groom, but as tramp.
Petruchio could not be persuaded to change his dress; he said Katharine was to be married to him, and not to his clothes. They went to church. Baptista had organized a marriage feast, but when everybody returned from church, Petruchio, told that he would instantly carry his wife home, and they would not be present at this feast. Petruchio mounted his wife upon a miserable horse, which was lean and lank, and they went on.
After a weary journey, during which Katharine had heard nothing but the ravings of Petruchio, they arrived at his house. Petruchio welcomed her kindly to her new home, but he decided that she should have neither rest nor food that night. The tables were spread, and supper soon served; but Petruchio, pretending to find every dish not suitable to eat, threw the meat about the floor, and ordered the servants to remove it away; and all this he did, as he said, in love for his Katharine, that she might not eat meat that was not well cooked. And when Katharine, weary and hungry decided to rest, he found the same fault with the bed, throwing the pillows and bedclothes about the room, so that she was forced to sit down in a chair, where she felt asleep, she was awakened by the loud voice of her husband, shouting at the servants for the bad-making of his wife's wadding-bed.
The next day Petruchio still speaking kind words to Katharine did not give her chance to eat, throwing the breakfast on the floor as he had done with the supper; and Katharine was forced to beg the servants to bring her secretly a food; but they being instructed by Petruchio, refused to do this.
At this day Petruchio decided to return to Batistas house and feast there. On all way Petruchio continued to tame Katharine. On a road they had met an old man.
Then Petruchio knew that old gentleman, he was the father of Lucentio, a young gentleman who was to be married to Baptista's younger daughter, Bianca, and he made Vincentio very happy, by telling him about that rich marriage of his son and they all journeyed together to Baptista's house, where there was a large company assembled to celebrate the wedding, Baptista had willingly agreed to the marriage of Bianca when he had got Katharine off his hands.
When they entered, Baptista welcomed them to the wedding feast, and there was present also another newly married pair.
Lucentio, Bianca's husband, and Hortensio, the other new married man, could not be kept from jesting at Petruchio, and they hint at the shrewish disposition of Petruchio's wife, and these grooms seemed high pleased with the mild tempers of the ladies they had chosen, laughing at Petruchio for his less fortunate choice. Petruchio took little notice of their jokes. And he offered a dispute in order to find out whose wife was more obedient. The other two husbands willingly agreed, for they were quite sure that their gentle wives would prove more obedient than the Katharine. Lucentio was first who sent his servant to Bianca, but the servant returned, and said, that she refused to come. And then it was Hortensio's turn to send for his wife. But the servant turned without mistress.
And at last Petruchios turn came; he had sent the servant to his wife
Company had practically no time to think she would not obey her husband, when Baptista, and all in amaze saw Katharine entering the room.
And to the wonder of all present, the reformed shrewish lady spoke about duty of obedience wife, as she had practiced it implicitly in a ready submission to Petruchio's will. And Katharine became famous in Padua, not as Katharine the Shrew, but as Katharine the most obedient and duteous wife in Padua.
"The Taming of the Shrew " is one of the earliest comedies of Shakespeare.
I like this comedy very much. It is evident, that it was written by a young, cheerful man.
It is the real comedy, which is full of lively situations and funny dialogues. It is very pleasant to recollect my first sensation from the scene 5 (the 4-th act), where Катарина and Petruchio came back to Baptista's home for a wedding feast. It seems to me that I could not stop laughing in a loud voice for a very long time.
The action in a comedy develops very dynamically. There are no long and dull dialogues, unnecessary scenes and events. Everything is written so alive, that if there are separate moralizing scenes, they do not irritate.
Petruchio is the typical representative of his time - courageous, free from prejudices, full of force and energy. He thirsts for struggle, success, riches, female love - and meets worthy opponent, she is Katharine. In her image Shakespeare had represented traditional type of the quarrelsome woman from the medieval stories, but nevertheless he relieved her from unpleasant features. She as well as Petruchio, causes the large sympathy. And Katharine, giving way to Petruchio, still remains his worthy opponent. Even it is difficult to understand, who from them will be the leader in their further joint life.
One can consider the play as protection of a medieval principle of unconditional submission of the woman to the man, or as a hymn to courageous, beautiful and clever woman. But I think it is more correct to consider it simply as a joke.
So this play is fine seen both at theatre, and in cinema. And I think it very pleasant to the directors to put, to the actors to play and to the spectators to watch it.
Examples of the Language.
ETRUCHIO Come on, I' God's name; once more