Why does the Lord in the "Induction" of The Taming of the Shrew play a practical joke on Christopher Sly? Why does the Lord decide to convince the tinker Christopher Sly that he is, in fact, a Lord?
Mousey is correct in suggesting that part of the purpose of the Induction in The Taming of the Shrew is to set a humorous tone. There is a bit more that can be found in the Induction, however, if we look a little closer.
First, as suggested, there really is no "reason" that the Lord decides to convince the drunken Christopher Sly that he is a Lord. The Lord says simply, "Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man," after nearly tripping over Sly, who is passed out from drink on the floor of an alehouse. This decision is a set-up...
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There was no real purpose in the induction other then setting a humorous tone before a non-humorous story. Most of the inductions written in Shakespears time were a framework for the story, like book ends. But in this play it is incomplete. The only time Sly is mentioned is the induction and at the end of Act 1 scene 1. After this he is never talked about again, and forgoten.