illustration of Kate and Petruchio standing and staring at one another

The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

Start Free Trial

What type of irony is present in this quote from The Taming of the Shrew and why?

"You will be schoolmaster,
And undertake the teaching of the maid:
That's your device."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This quote is directed to Lucentio who has disguised himself as “Cambio,” a teacher of Latin, in order to woo Bianca.  The irony is that he is now in the best position to woo Bianca as he will be in close proximity to her daily as her teacher, and that he does not having "teaching" on his mind at all.  For that matter, neither does Bianca  She is not the sweet, demur, innocent, and well-behaved girl everyone else thinks she is.

The type of irony here is dramatic irony, where Bianca's father and Biance do not know who Cambio really is or what his true mission for applying for the position of Bianca's tutor is, but the audience, Lucentio, and his servant, Tranio, all know the truth. 

Good Luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This line, coming as it does in Act I scene 1, helps develop the exposition of the plot. Tranio and Lucentio have just witnessed the exasperated Baptista's final effort to marry off both of his daughters. He has decreed that Bianca, his youngest daughter who is by fair the sweetest and most gentle, can only marry once the older sister, Katharina, who is known as "the shrew" for her argumentative nature and her lack of patience with suitors, herself is married.

Lucentio is struck at once with fervent and passionate love for Bianca, and thus finds himself in a very difficult situation - how can he hope to woo Bianca under such restrictions? Thus, talking with his manservant, Tranio, they devise a plan that will enable him to court Bianca in secret - Lucentio will impersonate a schoolmaster. I think there is some verbal irony in what Tranio says:

You will be a schoolmaster,

And undertake the teaching of the maid;

That's your device.

Although overtly Lucentio will play this role, he will be seeking to "teach" Bianca something apart from her lessons he will be supposedly teaching.

Thus the quote you have selected contains verbal irony and a possible innuendo concerning how Lucentio intends to court Bianca.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial