The Taming of the Shrew

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

FIRST HUNTSMAN

Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

I don’t think he’d have any choice, my lord.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

It would seem strange unto him when he waked.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

When he woke, he wouldn’t know where he was.

LORD

Even as a flatt'ring dream or worthless fancy.
40Then take him up and manage well the jest.
Carry him gently to my fairest chamber
And hang it round with all my wanton pictures.
Balm his foul head in warm distilled waters
And burn sweet wood to make the lodging sweet.
45Procure me music ready when he wakes,
To make a dulcet and a heavenly sound.
And if he chance to speak, be ready straight
And with a low submissive reverence
Say, “What is it your Honor will command?”
50Let one attend him with a silver basin
Full of rose-water and bestrewed with flowers,
Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper,
And say, “Will ’t please your Lordship cool your hands?”
Someone be ready with a costly suit
55And ask him what apparel he will wear.
Another tell him of his hounds and horse,
And that his lady mourns at his disease.
Persuade him that he hath been lunatic,
And when he says he is, say that he dreams,
60For he is nothing but a mighty lord.
This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs.
It will be pastime passing excellent
If it be husbanded with modesty.

LORD

It would be just like a nice daydream or fantasy. Well, take him on up and we’ll try to pull it off. Carry him to my best room—gently, so he doesn’t wake—and hang all my erotic paintings around him. Bathe his filthy head with warm, scented water. Burn fragrant wood to give the room a pleasant smell, and have musicians at hand, ready to produce sweet, soothing sounds when he awakes. You want to be ready in case he speaks. If he does, bow low and say deferentially, “What would your Honor have us do?” Have one servant wait on him with a basin of rosewater (throw in some petals), have another servant carry a pitcher, and a third a cloth. Say, “Would your Lordship care to freshen up?” Have someone standing by with expensive clothes, and ask him what he’d care to wear. Have another servant tell him about the dogs and horses that he owns and that his wife is grief-stricken over his illness. Convince him that he has been out of his mind—and when he says he’s out of his mind now, tell him he’s mistaken and that he is in fact a mighty lord. Do this—make it convincing—and we’ll have fun. It could work if it’s done subtly.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

My lord, I warrant you we will play our part
65As he shall think by our true diligence
He is no less than what we say he is.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

My lord, I promise we will play our parts so skillfully that he will believe everything we tell him.