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The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
The play starts with the Induction where a trick is played by a nobleman on the drunkard Christopher Sly who arranges for an acting troupe to perform a play called The Taming of the Shrew...

The beautiful and gentle Bianca has no shortage of admirers (Lucentio, Gremio and Hortensio) but her father insists that she will not marry until her shrewish sister, Katharina, is betrothed. Bianca's suitors persuade fortune-seeker Petruchio to court her. The suitors pay for any costs involved and there is also the goal of Katharina's dowry.

Sparks fly between Katharina and Petruchio and they enter into various slanging matches but not to be put off Petruchio marries Katharina. His behaviour following the wedding is intolerable and he carries Katharina off to his country house with his servant Grumio. Petruchio intends to browbeat 
Katharina into submission and he craftily denies her food and sleep, whilst continuously singing her praises. He also finds fault with her new clothes and she is forced to wear old ones. This is the final straw and Katharina starts agreeing and pleasing her husband - she has been tamed.

On their return to Padua Lucentio has won Bianca and Hortensio has married a widow. At a banquet they wager on who has the most obedient wife. Each wife is issued with commands but only Katharina obeys and promptly lectures everyone on the importance of wifely submission!

Theme of the play is a farcical comedy but the question is did Shakespeare really believe that a woman was in no way equal to a man or was this play tongue in cheek and was he portraying how men would simply like things to be!

Information provided about the Taming of the Shrew play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that The Taming of the Shrew was first performed between 1593 and 1594. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and The Taming of the Shrew would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first performed
Date The Taming of the Shrew was first printed
It is believed that The Taming of the Shrew was first printed in 1623 in the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for The Taming of the Shrew
The settings for the drama are Padua in Italy

Theme of The Taming of the Shrew
The play is categorised as a Comedy

Number of words in the script
The number of spoken words in The Taming of the Shrew, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 22,183 

Most important characters in The Taming of the Shrew
The most important characters in drama are: Katharina and Petruchio

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The quotes from the Taming of the Shrew are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including 'I 'll not budge an inch'. Details of this famous quotes follow, with others, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"I 'll not budge an inch". (Induction, Scene I).

"Out of the jaws of death".
(Act III, Scene IV).

"Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges".
(Act V, Scene I).

History of The Taming of the Shrew
Unlike many of his other plays The Taming of the Shrew does not include any historical figures or events. In the sixteenth century shrewish wives were, however, featured in a number of plays. (A shrew is a tiny rodent that is extremely bad tempered)

William Shakespeare's Main Source
hakespeare found the story in Suppositi written by Ludovico Ariosto (1474-1535) in 1509. George Gascoigne's play Supposes (1566) , which was derived from Aristo's work, could also have been used

Inspiration from The Taming of the Shrew
The play has inspired other works including several film versions, the most famous of which starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor . The musical Kiss Me Kate starring Howard Keel was also based on the play

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access a list of all the cast and characters.

Text - script of Taming of the Shrew the play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in The Taming of the Shrew play by William Shakespeare
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