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The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare

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