In The Taming of the Shrew, how does Shakespeare introduce the theme of the confusion between appearance and reality in the Induction?

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

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Appearance vs. reality is of course a central theme of this excellent Shakesperian comedy, and the Induction in many ways introduces this theme that will come to dominate the play. It principally does this through the trick that the Lord wishes to play on Sly by making him believe that he is actually a Lord who has suffered from a bout of insanity that has made him believe that he has been a peniless, itinerant beggar for the past seven years:

What think you, if he were conveyed to bed,

Wrapped in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers

A most delicious banquet by his bed,

And brave attendants near him when he wakes,

Would not the beggar then forget himself?

It is this process of trying to make "the beggar then forget himself" that is the framing device of the entire play, as reality gives way to appearance, and even poor Bartholomew has to play Sly's wife, who is so relieved that he has recovered from his bout of madness.

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