illustration of Kate and Petruchio standing and staring at one another

The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

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What information does Katherine hope to gain by tying Bianca's hands and questioning her?

The scene between Katherine and Bianca reveals the family dynamic of the sisterly relationship; it also pokes fun at these characters' personalities.

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Katherine demands that her younger sister Bianca reveal “Whom thou lovest best.” Katherine insists that she tell the truth and declares that Hortensio is Bianca’s choice. (Hortensio is a close friend of Petruchio, the man who attempts to woo Katherine.) Bianca thoroughly denies preferring Hortensio or any of her suitors. Katherine continues to interrogate her, suggesting that Bianca loves the old but wealthy Gremio. Bianca tries to find a reason for this abuse, wondering if Katherine is jealous or is just joking. Katherine responds to these suggestions by attacking her, citing Bianca’s offensive silence as a reason for her wrath. When their father Baptista stops her, Katherine accuses him of favoring Bianca over her and declares, “I will go sit and weep / Till I can find occasion of revenge.”

As disturbing as these family dynamics are, the scene also appears to be a humorous parody of vastly contrasting personalities. Bianca, the ideal daughter, claims that she will obey the vindictive Katherine. No matter how horrible Katherine is, Bianca says she will fulfill her role as dutiful younger sister: “what you will command me will I do, / So well I know my duty to my elders.” She also suggestively offers to take off all her clothes to her “petticoat,” if her sister so commands, hinting that Bianca might not be a simple saint. This possibility reasserts itself later, for, in the end, Bianca is presented as the more independent wife, while Katherine is ostensibly “tamed.”

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Kate wants to know which of the suitors Bianca prefers (Hortensio or the Gremio). Bianca denies wanting either of them.

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