illustration of Kate and Petruchio standing and staring at one another

The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

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The significance of key scenes in Act 4 of The Taming of the Shrew

Summary:

The key scenes in Act 4 of The Taming of the Shrew are significant because they showcase Petruchio's controversial methods of taming Katherine. This act emphasizes the transformation of Katherine's behavior through psychological tactics, such as depriving her of food and sleep, which reflect the play's themes of power and gender roles.

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In The Taming of the Shrew, what's the purpose of Act 4, Scene 2 in the plot?

In Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene i, concentrates on showing how shrewd Petruchio is in not only taming his new wife, but also in punishing his staff in order to closer align her sympathies to the servants. He plans, it seems, to control Kate by lack of food and sleep—his final intent is to bring her around to his way of thinking. It is during this scene that, ironically, Curtis states that Petruchio may be more of a shrew in his behavior than Katharina.

As the plot moves along then into scene two, Shakespeare shifts the attention back to what is occurring in Padua with regard to Bianca and her "suitors." A lot of information is shared with the audience in a "I won't bore you with details," though even while in saying so, the audience is still overwhelmed with said details.

And while all this occurs...

Act IV, Scene ii is purely “connective,” or structural. It ties up loose ends and ensures the successful progress of the Lucentio-Bianca subplot.

As this scene progresses, one almost needs a score card to keep track of suitors who remain, those who depart, who is trying to trick another suitor to leave the "race," and even those who are willing to do what ever is necessary, honest or not, to get what they want.

For the most part, then, Act IV, Scene two, is primarily used as a structural device to connect the overlying plot of Petruchio and Kate, and the courting that now continues after Kate's marriage, over Bianca's hand.

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Why is Act 4, scene 5 important in The Taming of the Shrew?

This is the scene where Katharina finally gives into Petruchio. Since he heard of her, he planned to marry her for her money and in the process “tame” her. He refuses to give up, humiliating her at her wedding and manhandling her, all in the name of love. Petruchio even interrupts her sleep and refuses to let her eat. He also treats his servants abominably, prompting even her to come to their defense.

On the road, Petruchio asserts, “how bright and goodly shines the moon!” Katharina points out that it is the sun that shines in the middle of the day. He insists that she agree with him: “It shall be moon, or star, or what I list.” He threatens to return home, and for the first time, she relents: “What you will have it named, even that it is; / And so it shall be so for Katharina.”

Petruchio then plays a game, getting Katharina to greet an old man as “Young budding virgin, fair and fresh and sweet.” The moment can be interpreted as a joke that both Petruchio and Katharina enjoy or as a humiliation of Katharina by her controlling husband.

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