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Hortensio, ‘twixt such friends as we
Few words suffice; and therefore, if thou know
One rich enough to be Petruchio’s wife—
As wealth is burden of my wooing dance—
Be she as foul as was Florentius’ love,
As old as Sibyl, and as curst and shrewd
As Socrates’ Xanthippe or a worse,
She moves me not—or not removes at least
Affection’s edge in me, were she as rough
As are the swelling Adriatic seas.
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua.
Petruchio speaks these lines to Hortensio
to explain his intention of finding a bride in Padua. He frankly
states that his main goal is to marry for money, equating wedding
with wealthy results—that is, marrying a rich wife—with wedding
happily. Apart from his prospective wife’s wealth, Petruchio says
that he does not care about any of her other qualities. He says
that the woman may be as “foul as was Florentius’ love,” referring
to a story in which the knight Florent was forced to marry an old
woman who saved his life. She may be as “old as Sibyl,” a mythic
prophetess who lived forever, but who continued to grow older and
older. Or she may be as unpleasant as “Socrates’ Xanthippe,” a woman
traditionally reputed to be a great shrew. Indeed, she may be any
or all of these things, and Petruchio cares not so long as she is
rich. This speech exemplifies Petruchio’s brash, robust manner of
speaking. He is blatantly honest about his materialism and selfishness,
and he also straightforwardly acknowledges the economic aspect of
marriage—something that everyone in the play is keenly aware of
but which only Petruchio discusses so frankly and openly and with
so little concern for romantic love.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Taming of the Shrew!