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Katherine, Petruchio, Bianca, Baptista, Lucentio, Gremio and Hortensio, Gremio and Hortensio, Grumio, Biondello, Christopher Sly
1590-1592, by William Shakespeare
The play describes the volatile courtship between the shrewish Katharina (Kate) and the canny Petruchio, who is determined to subdue Katharina’s legendary temper and win her dowry. The main story is offered as a play within a play; the frame plot consists of an initial two-scene “induction” in which a whimsical lord decides to play a practical joke on a drunken tinker, Christopher Sly, by inducing him to believe that he is in fact a nobleman who has suffered from amnesia and is only now awaking from it. The main body of the play is presented to Sly as an entertainment for his delectation.
The main themes of the play are female submissiveness, gender politics, cruelty, money, and language.
Katherina (Kate) Minola, Bianca Minola, Baptista Minola, Petruchio, Gremio, Lucentio, Hortensio, Grumio, Tranio, Biondello, Vincentio, Widow, Pedant, Haberdasher, Tailor, Curtis, Nathaniel, Peter, Joseph, Nicholas, Phillip, Christopher Sly
The source of the Petruchio-Katharina plot is unknown, although a number of analogues exist in ballads about the “taming” of shrewish women. The play’s other plot involving Bianca and her many suitors was derived from George Gascoigne’s comedy Supposes (1566), itself a translation of I suppositi (1509) by Ludovico Ariosto.
The Taming of the Shrew has always been controversial in terms of sexism. While it presents misogyny as well as abuse of power in both gender and class relations, The Taming of the Shrew seems to do this in an ironic way, with all the dangers of misinterpretation that irony always brings with it.
The Taming of the Shrew has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre; perhaps the most famous adaptations being Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate; McLintock!, a 1963 American Western comedy film, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; and the 1967 film of the play, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The 1999 high-school comedy film 10 Things I Hate About You, and the 2003 romantic comedy Deliver Us from Eva are also loosely based on the play.
“My tongue will tell the anger of my heart, or else my heart concealing it will break.”
“Sit by my side, and let the world slip: we shall ne'er be younger.”
“There's small choice in rotten apples.”
“If I be waspish, best beware my sting.”