Consider Shakespeare's use of The Arabian Nights tale in  The Taming of the Shrew.

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In Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew, some similarities may be found by comparing it to The Arabian Nights (also known as The Thousand and One Nights).

In Shakespeare's play, Petruchio is looking for a rich wife. Even as his friend cautions Petruchio that Katherina has a terrible temper, he is not worried. Petruchio tells Hortensio that money is a great motivator, and he is certain he will win Kate over.


Then Petruchio reports exactly what his plan is to win Kate. Whatever shortcoming she is said to have, he will treat her as if the opposite is true. For example, if someone says that she frowns, Petruchio will note that she looks like dew-drenched roses on a spring morning. He will be positive about Kate when all others are negative.

When they meet, Petruchio does just this by praising the name "Kate." Kate wants nothing to do with him, as she blatantly tells her father—she says his agreement with Petruchio does not show his fatherly love:


Call you me daughter? now, I promise you

You have show'd a tender fatherly regard,

To wish me wed to one half lunatic;

A mad-cup ruffian and a swearing Jack,

That thinks with oaths to face the matter out.(291-295)

However, by the end of the play, as Kate and Petruchio attend Bianca's wedding, Kate feels much differently. At Petruchio's direction, she tells the Widow that a husband is like her king—she owes him her smiles rather than frowns: for a frown is like muddy water; even someone terribly thirsty will not drink from a muddy fountain:


Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow,

And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,

To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor:

It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,

Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,

And in no sense is meet or amiable.

A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,

Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;

And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty

Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign...  (V.ii.147-158)

In The Arabian Nights, the Sultan greatly loves his wife, attempting to see to her every joy...

Now the Sultan Schahriar had a wife whom he loved more than all the world, and his greatest happiness was to surround her with splendour...

Schahriar is crushed to discover some years later that his wife has been unfaithful, and he has her executed. From then on, he weds a woman, spends one night with her, and then has her executed.

So every evening he married a fresh wife and had her strangled the following morning before the grand-vizir, whose duty it was to provide these unhappy brides for the Sultan.

The grand-vizir is already distressed by the death of these women and his hand in it— then his daughter, Scheherazade, tells her father to marry her to the Sultan. With deep misgivings, he finally agrees. Scheherazade plans to tell a story to the Sultan that is so exciting, that when she stops in the middle (at dawn), he will have to keep her alive to hear the end. It works.

At the end of one thousand and one nights, and one thousand stories, Scheherazade told the King that she had no more tales to tell him. During these one thousand and one nights, the King had fallen in love with Scheherazade, and had three sons with her.

The Sultan makes her his Queen, and they are very happy.

Both Scheherazade and Petruchio work hard to change the feelings of their spouse in using a solid plan and tenacity.

Read the study guide:
The Taming of the Shrew

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