The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  The Taming of the Shrew

author  William Shakespeare

type of work  Play

genre  Romantic comedy

language  English

time and place written  Around 1592, London

date of first publication  1623

tone  The overall tone of the play is light and comic, though the exploration of larger social questions, such as the proper relation of the sexes in marriage, lends much of the comedy a more serious tone.

settings (time)  Unspecific, though presumably sometime during the Italian Renaissance

settings (place)  Padua, a city-state in Italy prominent during the Renaissance

protagonist  There is no single protagonist; Katherine and Petruchio are the main characters.

major conflict  Petruchio’s attempt to “tame” Katherine; that is, to assert his authority in their marriage and overcome her hotheaded resistance to playing the role of his wife

rising action  Petruchio and Katherine’s early verbal conflicts; Katherine’s many scenes of shrewish behavior, including her attack on Bianca; the various disguises and subterfuges of the subplot; Katherine and Petruchio’s comical wedding

climax  There is no single moment of intense action in the play, but rather a long process of development culminating in Katherine’s fully changed behavior. It might be possible to see a climax in the wedding scene in Act III, or in Katherine’s decision in Act IV to submit to Petruchio when he says the sun is really the moon, or her agreement to throw shame to the winds and kiss him in the middle of the street in Act IV.

falling action  The banquet at Lucentio’s house in Act V, scene ii

themes  Marriage as an economic institution; the effect of social roles on individual happiness

motifs  Disguise; domestication; fathers and their children

symbols  Petruchio’s wedding costume; the haberdasher’s cap and tailor’s gown

foreshadowing  Petruchio’s declaration to Katherine in Act II that he is the man to tame her