Study Guide

The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

The Taming of the Shrew Characters

List of Characters

Petruchio—the clever but rough man who tames the “shrew” to be his wife.

Katharina—the shrew; a sharp-tongued woman who will not take a husband; She finally capitulates to the overpowering Petruchio and becomes the model wife.

Bianca—Katharina’s beautiful younger sister who cannot marry until a man weds Katharina.

Lucentio—a young man who wants to marry Bianca; disguises himself as Cambio, a teacher, to woo Bianca covertly.

Baptista—the wealthy father of Katharina and Bianca.

Gremio—an old man and suitor to Bianca.

Hortensio—disguises himself as Litio, a musician, in order to woo Bianca covertly; breaks off his suit when she favors Cambio, and marries a wealthy widow instead.

Vincentio—Lucentio’s father; a wealthy merchant who resides in Pisa.

Tranio—Lucentio’s servant who disguises himself as his master and comes to Baptista to court Bianca on Lucentio’s behalf.

Biondello—servant to Lucentio who slanders his father, Vincentio.

Grumio—patient servant to Petruchio.

Pedant—is disguised as Lucentio’s father, Vincentio.

Widow—marries Hortensio and surprises everyone at the play’s end by being more shrewish than Katharina.

Christopher Sly—a common tinker, fooled into believing that he is a nobleman.

Lord—a nobleman who plays an elaborate joke on the unsuspecting Christopher Sly.

Page—Bartholomew, probably a teenage boy; His master dresses him up as a woman to play the wife of Christopher Sly.

The Taming of the Shrew Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Katharina

Katharina (kat-uh-REE-nuh), the “shrew,” the spirited elder daughter of Baptista, a well-to-do Paduan gentleman. She storms at her father, her mild young sister, and her tutors until she meets Petruchio, who ignores her protests of rage and marries her while she stands by in stunned amazement. She continues to assert her will, but she finds her husband’s even stronger than her own and learns that submission is the surest means to a quiet life. Her transformation is a painful revelation to Lucentio and Hortensio, who must pay Petruchio their wagers and, in addition, live with wives who are less dutiful than they supposed.

Petruchio

Petruchio (peh-TREW-kee-oh), her masterful husband, who comes from Verona to Padua frankly in search of a wealthy wife. He is easily persuaded by his friend Hortensio to court Katharina and pave the way for her younger sister’s marriage. Katharina’s manners do not daunt him; in truth, his are little better than hers, as his long-suffering servants could testify. He meets insult with insult and storm with storm, humiliating his bride by appearing at the altar in his oldest garments and keeping her starving and sleepless, all the while pretending the greatest solicitude for her welfare. Using the methods of training hawks, he tames a wife and ensures a happy married life for himself.

Bianca

Bianca (bee-AHN-kuh), Katharina’s pretty, gentle younger sister, for whose hand Lucentio, Hortensio, and Gremio are rivals. Although she is completely charming to her suitors, she is, in her own way, clever and strong-willed, and she chides her bridegroom for being so foolish as to lay wagers on her dutifulness.

Baptista

Baptista (bap-TEES-tah), her father, a wealthy Paduan. Determined to treat his ill-tempered daughter fairly, he refuses to let Bianca marry before her. Petruchio’s courtship is welcome, even though its unorthodoxy disturbs him, and he offers a handsome dowry with Katharina, doubling it when he sees the results of his son-in-law’s “taming,” which gives him “another daughter.” Bianca’s marriage without his consent distresses and angers him, but his good nature wins out and he quickly forgives her, watching with delight as Petruchio demonstrates his success with Katharina.

Lucentio

Lucentio (lew-CHEHN-see-oh), the son of a Pisan merchant, who comes to Padua to study. He falls in love with Bianca when he first hears her speak and disguises himself as Cambio, a schoolmaster, to gain access to her, while his servant masquerades as Lucentio. He reveals his identity to his lady and persuades her to wed him secretly, but he finds his happiness somewhat marred when she costs him one hundred crowns by refusing to come at his call.

Hortensio

Hortensio (hohr-TEHN-shee-oh), Petruchio’s friend, who presents himself, disguised as a musician, as a teacher for Bianca. Convinced that Katharina is incorrigible, he watches Petruchio’s taming of his wife with amusement and skepticism. He weds a rich widow after becoming disillusioned when he sees Bianca embracing the supposed Cambio. Thus he finds himself, like Lucentio, with a wife more willful than he has expected.

Gremio

Gremio (GREE-mee-oh), an aging Paduan who hires the disguised Lucentio to forward his courtship of Bianca. His hopes are dashed when Tranio, as Lucentio, offers Baptista a large settlement for his daughter, and he is forced to become an observer of others’ romances.

Vincentio

Vincentio (veen-CHEHN-see-oh), Lucentio’s father. He is first bewildered, then angry, when he arrives in Padua to find an impostor claiming his name, his son missing, and his servant Tranio calling himself Lucentio. Overjoyed to find the real Lucentio alive, he quickly reassures Baptista that an appropriate settlement will be made for Bianca’s marriage, saving his anger for the impostors who tried to have him imprisoned.

Tranio

Tranio (TRAH-nee-oh), Lucentio’s servant, who advises his master to follow his inclinations for pleasure, rather than study. He plays his master’s part skillfully, courting Bianca to draw her father’s attention away from her tutor and even providing himself with a father to approve his courtship. He recognizes trouble in the form of the real Vincentio and attempts to avert it by refusing to recognize his old master and ordering him off to jail. His ruse is unsuccessful, and only nuptial gaiety saves him from the force of Vincentio’s wrath.

Grumio

Grumio (GREW-mee-oh) and

Curtis

Curtis, Petruchio’s long-suffering servants.

Biondello

Biondello (bee-on-DEHL-oh), Lucentio’s servant, who aids in the conspiracy for Bianca’s hand.

A pedant

A pedant, an unsuspecting traveler who is persuaded by Tranio to impersonate Vincentio.

Christopher Sly

Christopher Sly, a drunken countryman, found unconscious at a tavern by a lord and his huntsmen. They amuse themselves by dressing him in fine clothes and greeting him as a nobleman, newly recovered from insanity. Sly readily accepts their explanations, settles himself in his new luxury, and watches the play of Katharina and Petruchio with waning interest.

A lord

A lord, the eloquent nobleman who arranges the jest.

Bartholomew

Bartholomew, his page, who pretends to be Sly’s noble wife.

The Taming of the Shrew Character Analysis

Katherina (Character Analysis)

Katherina is established as a "shrew"—a loud, unmanageable, bad-tempered woman—by her own behavior and by the comments of other...

(The entire section is 1022 words.)

Petruchio (Character Analysis)

The traditional interpretation of the character of Petruchio sees him as a romantic and dashing figure, sweeping Katherina off her feet with...

(The entire section is 1171 words.)

Lucentio (Character Analysis)

Lucentio is Vincentio's son. With Vincentio's permission, Lucentio is traveling abroad in order to expand his horizons and pursue his...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Sly (Character Analysis)

Christopher Sly is the main character in the Induction, or frame story. He falls asleep outside an Inn after drinking too much and arguing...

(The entire section is 400 words.)

Other Characters (Descriptions)

Baptista
Baptista is a wealthy landowner in Padua. He has two daughters, Bianca and Katherina/Kate. The younger daughter,...

(The entire section is 3396 words.)