Signor 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.
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