The Taming of the Shrew is a play within a play. It’s a story told by a man, Sly, in an alehouse in England, and his story is set in Padua, Italy – in a public square, in Baptista’s house, and in Lucentio’s house. Other scenes take place in Petruchio’s country house and on the road between there and Lucentio’s house.
Date written: 1592
Genre classification: The Taming of the Shrew is a is a Comedy play.
Main characters in The Taming of the Shrew: The action revolves around Katherine (Kate), the daughter of Baptista and the older sister of Bianca. Katherine has no suitors because she is not conventionally attractive but more seriously, she is notoriously shrewish, and seems to hate men, which makes it difficult for any man to deal with her. Bianca is sweet natured and beautiful but can’t marry until her older sister does.
Petruchio is a gentleman from Verona who agrees to marry Katherine because of her large dowry. The action is mainly concerned with his efforts to tame her.
Lucentio, a young man from Pisa, falls in love with Bianca and because she can’t marry, they elope.
The Taming of the Shrew themes: This is an interesting play in that Shakespeare explores the relationship between men and women intensely – more so than in any other play. The way women are treated and the effects of that is the main theme of the play. Baptista has complete domination over his daughters and dictates to them on every matter. Katherine is ‘tamed’ by her husband as though she were a wild animal. Men and women are rude and cruel to each other. Even Bianca, the sweet sister, at one point calls her husband a fool. Petruchio is alarmingly cruel to Katherine. It’s funny, but Shakespeare is making a serious point.
Money and the greed for it, is another major theme. Dowries and their size, and how much women are worth features strongly.
As usual in Shakespeare, the theme of appearance and reality is strongly expressed. Nothing is what it seems to be. Even the shrewishness of Katherine conceals a compliable nature: her shrewishness is a reaction to the hurt she feels at the treatment she has received from men. The action is largely driven by people disguised to conceal their identities and achieve their goals, which are not always what they seem to be.