The Taming of the Shrew
Old Baptista of Padua has a problem. His much-courted, demure younger daughter Bianca is surrounded by suitors, but he has resolved not to give her in marriage until the elder, Katherina, the shrew of the play’s title, is wed. Though Kate is well-dowried and fair, her temper is legend. Father, sister, and suitors writhe under the lash of her tongue.
Hortensio, enamoured of Bianca, explains his predicament to Petruchio, a witty and wise young man of Verona who has come to “wive it wealthily in Padua.” The description of Kate fails to daunt him; he has the intelligence to perceive the woman as both puzzle and prize.
Though Hortensio’s plan avails him naught--he loses Bianca to Lucentio disguised as a schoolmaster--he sets Petruchio in motion. In a scene perhaps better dramatized than read, the sparks fly as Petruchio ventures to woo Katherina. He pretends to have heard nothing but good of her. As she insults him, he compliments her courtesy. This is only a skirmish in the battle between the sexes; later, Petruchio comes late to the wedding, wears tattered clothes, and rides a pathetic excuse for a horse. He swears at the priest, smacks a loud kiss on the bride, and hurries her off without the comfort of a wedding feast.
Once Kate is installed in her new home, Petruchio’s antics grow even madder. Nothing is good enough for his Kate, so the food is thrown out, the bed flung asunder, her new gown returned to the tailor....
(The entire section is 579 words.)
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