In The Taming of the Shrew, who are the characters who assume false identities in Act I?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is in Act I that Lucentio is struck with sudden love for Bianca, and thus discusses with his manservant, Tranio, how he can gain access to her to protest his love. Tranio, who seems to take the role of guiding his rather love-struck master through the play, comes up with the idea of exchanging identities. Tranio will become Lucentio so that he can keep house and play the role that Lucentio is expected to play. Lucentio will be free to become one of the schoolmasters that Baptista will use to educate his daughter, and thus be able to court Bianca in secret:

Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,

Keep house, and port, and servants, as I should.

I will some other be, some Florentine,

Some Neapolitan, or meaner man of Pisa.

'Tis hatched and shall be so.

Thus it is Lucentio and Tranio that decide to put on a disguise and pretend to be who they are not. It is important to realise that in this comedy, such devices were common place. Lucentio's deception is perhaps balanced by Baptista's extreme approach to his daughters. The way that he clearly views his daughters and their marriages as a way for him to gain wealth makes him a fitting subject to be tricked by the ardent suitor who courts his younger daughter beneath his nose.

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