In The Taming of the Shrew, when Sly first meets his wife, what does he ask her to do?

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huntress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Taming of the Shrew, Sly is a drunkard who has just been kicked out of an inn for breaking glasses and not paying for them. When the hostess goes off to fetch the law, he falls asleep, whereupon a lord returns from hunting and discovers him there. He wonders, randomly, what would happen if they took Sly into his house, cleaned him up and dressed him in lordly clothes and addressed him as "your lordship" and "your honour"--and told him he'd just woken up from being mad (crazy)--if they could convince him that he truly was a lord. This is the true lord's idea of entertainment (or "sport," as he calls it).

Next, he has one of his pages, Bartholomew, dress like a lady, and schools him on how to behave like the lady of the "lord." They eventually convince Sly that he is a lord, and he asks for his lady to be brought in, along with "the smallest cup of ale." 

They bring in Bartholomew dressed like a lady. Sly says that they tell him he's been out of it for 15 years, and his "lady" responds that it seems like 30 years to "her" as he has been absent from her bed. Thus, the first thing Sly asks her to do is "undress you and come now to bed." 

You'll perhaps be relieved to know that the page does no such thing, begging off because "your physicians have expressly charged, / In peril to incur your former malady, / That I should yet absent me from your bed." In other words, your physicians say you may go crazy again, so I should not sleep with you just yet. 

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The Taming of the Shrew

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