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The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare


Act V, scene ii

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Act V, scene ii

Act V, scene ii

Act V, scene ii

Act V, scene ii

Summary: Act V, scene ii

Lucentio throws a banquet to celebrate the three recent marriages in Padua: Petruchio to Kate, Lucentio to Bianca, and Hortensio to the widow he had spoken of before. As they sit around the table eating and chatting, Petruchio and the widow engage in some jesting (mostly at Hortensio’s expense). Kate joins in, and she begins to argue with the widow. The argument nearly turns to violence, with the men cheering them on to fight, but Bianca calms them, and the three wives go off together to talk.

Meanwhile, the men begin to chide Petruchio—Baptista, Lucentio, Tranio, and Hortensio still think that Petruchio has been stuck with a vicious shrew, and they give him some grief for it. Petruchio confidently suggests a test to see which of the three new husbands has the most obedient wife. Each of them will send for his wife, and the one whose wife obeys first will be the winner. After placing a significant amount of money on the wager, Lucentio sends Biondello go to get Bianca, confident that she will obey at once. However, Biondello returns to tell them that she is busy and will not come. Hortensio receives a similar response from the widow. Finally, Grumio goes back to get Kate, and she returns at once, to the great surprise of all but Petruchio. Petruchio sends Kate back to bring in the other wives. Again, she obeys. Upon their return, Petruchio comments that he dislikes Kate’s hat and tells her to throw it off. She obeys at once. Bianca and the widow, aghast at Kate’s subservience, become even further shocked when, at Petruchio’s request, Kate gives a speech on the duty that wives owe to their husbands.

In the speech, Kate reprimands them for their angry dispositions, saying that it does not become a woman to behave this way, especially toward her husband. A wife’s duty to her husband, she says, mimics the duty that “the subject owes the prince,” because the husband endures great pain and labor for her benefit (V.ii.159). She admits that once she was as haughty as Bianca and the widow are now, but that she has since changed her ways and most willingly gives her obedience to her husband. The other men admit complete defeat, and Petruchio leaves victorious—he and Kate go to bed happily, and Hortensio and Lucentio remain behind to wonder at this miraculous change of fates.

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Analysis: Act V, scene ii

Kate’s speech at the end of the play has been the focus of many interpretations. It is, for obvious reasons, abhorrent to many feminist critics, who take issue with Kate’s recommendation of total subservience to the husband—she says at different points that the man is the woman’s lord, king, governor, life, keeper, head, and sovereign. She also stereotypes women as physically weak and then suggests that they should make their personality mild to match their physique:

Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth
. . .
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?

Petruchio agrees with Kate’s description of the ideal relationship. He explains to Hortensio what Kate’s obedience will mean: “Marry, peace it bodes, and love, and quiet life; / An aweful rule and right supremacy, / And, to be short, what not that’s sweet and happy” (V.ii.112114). “Right supremacy” suggests that his ideal involves the complete suppression of the wife’s will. As a whole, Shakespeare’s society took this definition of gender roles for granted. After all, this was a uniformly Christian society that bowed to biblical notions of the husband as the wife’s head and the woman as the glory of the man (paraphrasing Ephesians and 1 Corinthians, respectively). In short, Shakespeare’s society believed in the hierarchy that Kate earnestly supports in her speech.

Yet, given the fact that the entire play challenges stereotypes and promotes an awareness of ambiguous appearances, both Kate’s final speech and Petruchio’s views may be open to question. In fact, in the last line of the play, Lucentio implies that Kate, in the end, allowed herself to be tamed: “’Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tamed so” (V.ii.193). Perhaps Lucentio implies that Kate and Petruchio planned the wager, and that they worked as a team to dupe the others out of their money. Throughout the play, Kate actively accepted Petruchio’s courting and taming even when she could have denied him, suggesting that here she also has the agency to say one thing and mean another. Despite her initial resistance, Kate seems to view her marriage as a chance to find harmony within a prescribed social role, ultimately implying that we should find happiness and independence within the roles to which we are assigned, not that women should subjugate themselves to men.

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Who does Petruchio jest with during Lucentio’s wedding feast?
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Tranio's Character in Scene 1- Act1 (scene- when he and his servant reach Padua, when they are at Baptista's house)

by TTOSfreak, September 12, 2013

Lucentio is a very kind and obedient servant. He agrees to every thing that his master Lucentio says. Lucentio's father had told Tranio to take good care of his master while in Padua [ Lucentio had come to study at a famous university, but he fell in love with Bianca later ]. Since Tranio is aware of his master's love Bianca( the youngest daughter of Baptista Minola ), he helps him [Lucentio] in all ways possible.


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Comparison of the nature's of Katherina and Bianca

by TTOSfreak, September 12, 2013

Katherina and Bianca are like the north pole and south pole. They both have different characteristics and different natures.

KATHERINA:- Katherina is Baptista Minola's eldest daughter. She is an intolerable, curst, ill favored and shrewd young lady. She is famous in Padua for her scolding tongue. She is so "wild", unpleasant and hot tempered that no man wants to marry her. She thinks her father loves her sister Bianca more than he loves her. Katherina does not care about marriage and does not want any man to love her. She is disliked... Read more


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Petruchio's "Image" on how he arrives for the wedding [Act-3, Scene-2]

by TTOSfreak, November 16, 2013

Petruchio is late for his wedding. All the family members and guests are worried about the fact if he is coming or not.
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Petruchio comes dressed up in a new hat, an old jerkin, a pair of old breeches (that were turned thrice), a pair of boots, with a broken hilt an chapless, and with two broken points. Even his horse was looking messed up. The horse was hipped-- with an old mothy saddle and some stirrups of no kindred-- besides, possessed with the glanders and like to mose in chine; t... Read more


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