List three ways in which Shakespeare continues the theme of appearance vs. reality in Acts I & II in The Taming of the Shrew.

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. In the play's first scene, Christopher Sly, who has passed out from drinking, is tricked into believing that he is actually a nobleman, thus initiating the theme of the disconnect between appearance and reality. The lord who tricks Sly tells his huntsmen:

"Persuade him that he hath been lunatic;
And when he says he is, say that he dreams,
For he is nothing but a mighty lord."

2. In Act I, Scene 1, Tranio, Lucentio's servant, tells Lucentio, who has come from Pisa to study in Padua,

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

This is part of a plan for Lucentio to gain access to Bianca, the woman with whom  he has fallen in love.

3. Katharina is widely regarded as a shrew; in Act II Scene 1, she and Petruchio, who will ultimately win her, verbally spar. She tells him, "If I be waspish, best beware my sting." Though Katharina presents herself as a tough, take-no-prisoners woman to would-be suitors, in truth, she is insecure because of the attention her sister Bianca wins from everyone—perhaps most of all, their father.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the principal ways in which the theme of appearance vs. reality is continued throughout these two Acts is through the disguise and dissimulation of the principal characters in their attempt to woo Bianca. In Act I scene 1, for example, we see a typical Shakesperian reversal of roles between Lucentio and Tranio, as the master becomes the servant and vice versa in Lucentio's desire to gain access to Bianca. This theme is continued in Act I scene 2 when we discover that Gremio has had precisely the same idea, wanting to "tutor" Bianca by disguising himself as a teacher. Then lastly, in Act II scene 1, we see all of the suitors go to the house of Baptista to try and gain admission to Bianca. It is very hard to keep track of who is actually who, as reality gives  way to appearance with these riotous affairs.

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The Taming of the Shrew

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