MODERN THE TAMING OF THE SHREW PLOT SUMMARY
Sly and a land lady argue over Sly's debts. The land lady goes to fetch a policeman, but Sly doesn't care. He falls asleep in the street. A hunting horn blows and a Lord returns from his hunt with his huntsmen. He notices Sly and wonders if he is dead or just drunk. They discover he is quite alive—the Lord decides to play a trick on him. They carry Sly into the Lord's house, dress him in nicer clothes and dress up one of the servants as his wife. Once Sly wakes up, they pretend that he is the Lord of the house and has finally woken up from his madness after 15 years. Actors have arrived to perform for the Lord of the house, and Sly sits down with his “wife” to watch the play.
In the play itself, Lucentio and his servant, Tranio, talks about their plans while in Padua. Lucentio wants to learn a fantastic deal while studying. Tranio warns him not to forget about the pleasures of living. They see a number of people arriving and decide to take a step back and listen in. It is Baptista with his two daughters, Katherina and Bianca. Bianca's two suitors, Gremio and Hortensio, follow. Baptista will not allow either man to continue wooing Bianca until her older sister Katherina is married off. Katherina has a whopping temper that neither suitor likes. Baptista will hire tutors to live inside the house so that the two daughters can continue with their education.
Gremio and Hortensio decide to work together to find a suitor for Katherina. Even though they're rivals, it is in their best interests if one of them is to marry Bianca. They will also both find a tutor for Bianca so that Baptista will look more favourable on them. They discuss Katherina's flaws—she is too wilful for a woman. They leave.
Tranio and Lucentio discuss their own plans: Lucentio wants Bianca for his own wife. Tranio will pretend to be Lucentio, and Lucentio will pretend to be a tutor so he can spend time alone with Bianca. They exchange clothing. Lucentio's servant, Biondello, arrives and doesn't understand why they are dressed in each other's clothing. Lucentio asks Biondello to wait on Tranio—Lucentio makes up a story about him murdering someone on arrival in Padua and needing to hide. Tranio is protecting him. He is also to woo Bianca at the same time under Lucentio's orders.
Petruchio arrives in Padua with his servant, Grumio. They arrive at his friend, Hortensio's house. Hortensio greets him. Padua is just one stop for Petruchio, who is travelling the world in search of a wife after his father's death. Petruchio doesn't care what the woman looks like, as long as she has a large dowry. Hortensio has the girl for him—Katherina—but warns him that the woman is wilful. Petruchio doesn't care—he can be rougher with her than she is with him. He decides to leave to see Katherina immediately. Hortensio will go with him so that he can see Bianca. Gremio enters with Lucentio, who is disguised as Cambio, a Latin teacher. Gremio will use Lucentio to get to Bianca. Hortensio assures Gremio he too has found a tutor for Bianca, in music. They both decide to give Petruchio money so that he can successfully woo and marry Katherina.
Katherina has bound Bianca's hands and tries to get her to admit which one of the men she wants to marry. Bianca refuses—she will marry the one Katherina doesn't want. Katherina strikes her. Baptista enters to find Bianca upset, and protects her. Katherina accuses him of loving Bianca more than he loves her. The two women leave. Baptista welcomes Gremio, Lucentio, Hortensio, Tranio, Petruchio and Biondello. Lucentio is presented as the Latin teacher, and Hortensio is disguised as the music teacher. Tranio introduces himself as Lucentio. Petruchio asks for Katherina's hand in marriage. Baptista will give her to him if Katherina falls in love with him. The two tutors leave to start the lessons. Hortensio returns with his head bleeding. Katherina attacked him after he corrected her fingering during the music lesson. Everyone but Petruchio leaves, and Katherina enters.
Petruchio compliments Katherina every time she insults him. He will marry her, whether she likes it or not. Baptista, Gremio and Tranio enter. Petruchio announces that Katherina has accepted him, and they will be married on Sunday. Katherina does not want to be married to him. She doesn't understand how her own father can marry her off to a complete lunatic. Petruchio tells the men to relax—Katherina agreed to marry him, but to continue being unpleasant when they are in public. Petruchio leaves for Venice to buy the wedding outfits and tells Baptista to arrange for a great feast.
Gremio and Tranio fight over Bianca's hand—Baptista decides in favour of the person who can assure Bianca the bigger dowry. Tranio wins. The Sunday after next, Tranio and Bianca shall be married as long as Tranio can get assurances from his father that the dowry shall be set and guaranteed. If not, then Gremio shall win.
Bianca sits through two lessons—the first with Lucentio, who reveals through the Latin lesson that he is Lucentio in disguise and wants to win her hand. Bianca replies through the same way that she mistrusts him but that he should not give up on her just yet. Hortensio then starts her music lesson—he tries to reveal his love for Bianca through a new theory on chords. Bianca prefers the old way of learning chords. Hortensio believes he should keep an eye on Lucentio—the minute he catches her falling for someone else, he will no longer woo her.
Baptista, Gremio, Tranio, Katherina, Bianca, Lucentio and Servants gather together. Baptista wonders where Petruchio is—it is their wedding day, and he still hasn't arrived. Katherina is tremendously upset. Biondello arrives to report Petruchio is on his way, but that he is peculiarly dressed. Petruchio enters—he is dressed like a poor man. Tranio tries to get him to change, but he goes in to see Katherina. While the other men are distracted inside the house, Tranio tells Lucentio he is looking for a man to play Vincentio, his father, so that the dowry can be guaranteed.
Gremio arrives from the wedding. Petruchio knocked the Priest over, swore loudly in Church and kissed Katherina so hard that the smack of their lips echoed in Church. The wedding party arrives, and Petruchio announces that he must leave immediately with Katherina. She does not want to go, but Petruchio reminds all of the men that he owns her now and takes her away. Baptista tells Tranio and Bianca to take their places as bride and bridegroom at the wedding table to practice for the following week.
Grumio tells Curtis, another of Petruchio's servants, about the awful journey they have had. Katherina's horse fell on her, and instead of Petruchio going to her aid, he smacked Grumio and blamed him for the horse falling over. Katherina had to save him. Grumio gets the Servants ready and waiting, but on arrival Petruchio insults them for being lazy enough not to greet him and take his horse away. He orders his Servants about, and berates them for making mistakes and strikes them for it. Katherina begs him to be merciful. Petruchio throws the dinner away—it was overcooked. Neither of them will eat until the next day. Petruchio takes her away to bed—he admits to the audience that he will not let Katherina eat or sleep until she starts obeying him.
Tranio, disguised as Lucentio, talks with Hortensio, who is disguised as the tutor. Tranio cannot believe Bianca would prefer someone else, but Hortensio tells him to watch while Bianca and Lucentio, disguised as the Latin tutor, have their lesson. They can both see she has fallen for Lucentio. Tranio and Hortensio vow not to woo her anymore. Hortensio will find a widow for a wife quickly so that he will not be tempted to break his promise, and then leaves. Tranio tells Bianca he and Hortensio have found out about her. Lucentio is happy that Hortensio has given up.
Biondello has found someone to play the part of Vincentio, Lucentio's father. Everyone but Tranio leaves. A Merchant enters, and Tranio plays a trick on him, claiming that anyone who travels from Mantua to Padua will be killed. He can pretend to be his father, Vincentio, for protection until then. The Merchant agrees with this.
Katherina begs Grumio to give her something to eat. She is so tired and hungry. Grumio will not. Petruchio and Hortensio arrive with a dish of meat—Hortensio eats it all before Katherina even gets the chance, and even after Katherina says thank you to Petruchio for it. A Tailor and a Hatmaker arrive to dress Katherina in her best before they leave for her father's house. Petruchio dislikes the hat and the dress, despite the fact that they stay within current fashions. Katherina argues with him, and Petruchio sends the two men away. They will wear what they have on.
Tranio presents the Merchant to Baptista as his father. The Merchant gives his consent to the marriage right away—they decide to meet that night at Lucentio's house to settle the contracts for the dowry. Lucentio himself is told by Biondello that he can take Bianca to a Priest that night to make sure he marries her before he is discovered by Baptista. Lucentio is worried, but will only marry her that night if she wants to.
Petruchio, Katherina, and Hortensia meet the real Vincentio on the road. Katherina has already decided it will be an easier life if she just agrees with everything Petruchio says, and so calls Vincentio a maid after Petruchio does. Petruchio changes his mind—can't she see that Vincentio is a man? After introductions, Petruchio reveals that they are related—Vincentio's son married his wife's sister, Bianca. They are on their way there right now. Vincentio wonders if this is all true and leaves with the group. Hortensio decides to go and visit his Widow now that he knows how to tame difficult women.
Lucentio and Bianca leave to be married. Biondello watches after them. Petruchio arrives with Vincentio, who demands to see Lucentio. The Merchant will not let him into the house, and continues to pretend to be Vincentio. The real Vincentio is outraged this man has taken his name and pretends to be him. Biondello returns from the marriage between Lucentio and Bianca and sees Vincentio. He asks for an explanation, but Biondello pretends to have never seen him before. The Merchant and Tranio come out of the house and call for a police officer to arrest Vincentio for impersonating another man. Vincentio recognizes Tranio, who insists that he is Lucentio, and concludes he must have killed Lucentio and taken his place.
Biondello returns with Lucentio and Bianca. Biondello, Tranio and the Merchant run away because they are afraid for their lives. Lucentio and Bianca reveal that they are married and that Lucentio has been orchestrating a substantial amount of trickery. Vincentio will not listen to Lucentio's plea for Tranio to be left alone. He wants revenge and leaves to get it. Before he goes, he assures the shocked Baptista that his daughter will be provided for. Everyone leave to watch Vincentio take his revenge. Katherina and Petruchio stay behind for a moment. Petruchio wants her to kiss him, but she's ashamed to. He threatens to take her back home. She kisses him and then go inside.
Everyone gathers together, including Hortensio's Widow-wife. The Widow insults Katherina, who sticks up for herself. When attention turns to Bianca, she begs them not to take any notice of her and then goes inside. The other women follow. The men decide to have a wager: whoever can command their wife to come to them wins the bet. Neither Hortensio or Lucentio's wives obey their husbands, but Katherina comes immediately and then goes to retrieve the other wives. Petruchio asks Katherina to lecture the other women on the nature of loyalty to their husbands. She tells them to care, love and obey their men who protect them and keep them safe from the outside world. Women are foolish if they seek authority and supremacy, because their bodies were made to be soft just as their emotional selves are. They leave to go to bed. Hortensio and Lucentio are amazed that Petruchio managed to tame Katherina, and that she let him tame her.
MODERN THE TAMING OF THE SHREW CHARACTER ANALYSIS
Lucentio is a young nobleman from Pisa who has travelled to Padua to study at University but becomes embroiled in a plot when he falls in love with the young Bianca. He disguises himself as Cambio to give her lessons and get closer to her. Lucentio is the most good natured of the suitors, does not force Bianca into anything she does not want to do, and trusts his servant, Tranio, to help him.
Baptista is father to Bianca and Katherina. He is one sided in his approach to his daughters, but it is hard to blame him for it. Katherina's behaviour confuses him as it is not the norm, but he does encourage her outbursts by taking Bianca's side. He cares for both daughters a fantastic deal by making sure Katherina will be married off before her sister to avoid shaming her, and lavishes expensive educations on them. Baptista is also a sound businessman and tries to ensure both daughters are well cared for in their dowries before they are married off, even if the suitors go behind his back.
Tranio is Lucentio's servant and poses as Lucentio for much of the play. He has grown up in Lucentio's family since he was three years old. He is exceptionally smart and manages to organize Lucentio's marriage to Bianca while still maintaining his disguise. Aside from his advice to Lucentio at the beginning of the play to not forget pleasures of life in place of serious studying, not much else is known about his personality or personal life.
Petruchio is a wealthy gentleman from Venice who has arrived in Padua to find a wife. He ends the play as Katherina's husband and as a man who is considered to be better off than Hortensio or Lucentio because of his control over his wife. Petruchio is quick with his tongue and wit, and is the only one to keep up with Katherina. This is one of the reasons why it is so easy to undermine her. His plot to trick her into becoming a tamer woman succeeds, and although many can criticize his cruel abuse of her, he is deemed victorious by the play's end because of it.
Hortensio is one of Bianca's suitors. He is younger than Gremio. Hortensio disguises himself as Litio, a music tutor, to get closer to Bianca and woo her in secret. However, once Hortensio sees she is in love with someone else, he goes right out to marry a widower to stop him from breaking his promise, which suggests he is impulsive and didn't care much for Bianca herself, but for her dowry.
Grumio is Petruchio's servant and one of the fools of the play. He consistently misunderstands Petruchio, whether on purpose or not, which lands him in a bit of trouble. He is often beaten or struck by Petruchio, but continues to stick by him. He also gets into silly arguments with other characters in the play, such as Curtis, one of Petruchio's other servants.
Gremio is the other one of Bianca's suitors. He is older than Hortensio, but claims that this age gives him an edge over Hortensio, who perhaps does not understand love or marriage. Until the very end, Gremio does not realise Hortensio and Lucentio have tricked him out of being close enough to woo Bianca in secret. In fact, Gremio still has hope for Bianca's hand until he hears she has been married off to Lucentio. Until then, he hangs around, hoping that Tranio/Lucentio will not able to guarantee Bianca's dowry.
(also known as Katherine in some editions and Kate to Pertrucio)
Katherina, or Kate, is Baptista's oldest daughter. She speaks her mind, refuses to be obedient to her father, sister or husband, and constantly questions the people around her who seem to care so little for her, and so much for her sister, Bianca. Her rage does not save her from Pertrucio, who arguably treats her so poorly that she feels she has no choice but to become an entirely different person for him. To obey him in everything, and to accept the role of domestic wife in their relationship.
Bianca is Baptista's youngest daughter. She is seemingly an innocent and obedient girl, but by the end of the play she refuses to come when her husband, Lucentio, calls for her. She also encourages Lucentio to continue wooing her behind her father's back, which leaves us to wonder who the real Bianca is, and whether or not she hides behind her own kind of disguise.
Christopher Sly (Sly)
Sly is a poor and foolish man who prefers to be constantly drunk. When a Lord returns from a hunt and finds him asleep, stinking drunk, and in the gutter, he decides to play a trick on Sly. At first Sly does not believe he is a Lord, but the more the Lords and his Servants push, the more Sly believes in it. Of course, the thing that helps him believe in the illusion the most is the promise of a wife who is willing to go to bed with him.
Biondello is Lucentio's second servant and helps Lucentio and Tranio with the plot. He cares a fantastic deal about his master, Lucentio, and makes sure that he is married safely to Bianca before he returns to the house. He also struggles to defend Lucentio's plot when Lucentio's father arrives to undo all their good work, which shows how loyal he is to his master.
The Tailor arrives at Petruchio's house with a new gown for Katherina to wear. Although Petruchio ordered the exact gown the Tailor has made, his design is insulted because Petruchio wants to challenge Katherina into agreeing with and obeying her husband. The Tailor actually stands up for himself against Petruchio which suggests he isn't afraid of a fight, even one against a nobleman; he just wants to be paid for his work.
The Lord is part of Sly's story and the Induction scenes that set up the rest of the play. He is the one who decides to use Sly for a bit of fun, and organizes his servants to help. Not much else is known about him, but it can be assumed the Lord is used to getting his own way and doesn't care much for the feelings of others, especially those of a lower stature than his own.
Curtis is Petruchio's other servant. When Grumio returns home, he ends up being the one Grumio takes his frustrations out on, which suggests Curtis is of a lower status in the household to Grumio. He seems to take it in his stride, however, which suggests this is a common occurence.
Vincentio is Lucentio's wealthy merchant father who arrives in Padua to pay his son a visit and ends up finding a bit of a mess. His appearance forces Lucentio, Tranio and the others to admit to their falsehoods, and brings everything back to normal.
EXCERPT FROM THE TAMING OF THE SHREW IN PLAIN AND SIMPLE ENGLISH
Before an alehouse on a heath
[Enter HOSTESS and SLY.]
SLY. I'll pheeze you, in faith.
I'll hit you, I swear.
HOSTESS. A pair of stocks, you rogue! [A curse], you lowborn person!
SLY. Y'are a baggage; the Slys are no rogues; look in the chronicles: we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris; let the world slide. Sessa!
You're very ignorant; the Slys are not lowborn; look in the histories: we came [to England] with Richard the Conqueror. Therefore, paucas pallabris; let the world slide. Sessa!
HOSTESS. You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?
You will not pay for the glasses you have broken?
SLY. No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy, go to thy cold bed and warm thee.
No, not a penny. Go away, Saint Jeronimy, go to your cold bed and get warm.
HOSTESS. I know my remedy; I must go fetch the third-borough.
I know what to do; I must go fetch a policeman.
SLY. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll answer him by law. I'll not budge an inch, boy: let him come, and kindly.
No matter the policeman, I'll answer him by law. I won't budge an inch, boy: let him come, and gently.
[Lies down on the ground, and falls asleep.]
[Horns winded. Enter a LORD from hunting, with Huntsmen and Servants.] LORD. Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds;
Huntsman, I command you, take good care of my hunting-dogs;
Brach Merriman, the poor cur, is emboss'd,
Brach Merriman, the poor dog, is scratched,
And couple Clowder with the deep-mouth'd brach.
And give Clowder something for his mouth.
Saw'st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good
Did you not see, boy, how Silver did well
At the hedge-corner, in the coldest fault?
At the corner of the hedge at the critical moment?
I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.
I would not lose that dog for twenty pounds.
FIRST HUNTSMAN. Why, Bellman is as good as he, my lord; He cried upon it at the merest loss,
He howled at the slightest loss,
And twice to-day pick'd out the dullest scent;
And twice today picked up the faintest scent;
Trust me, I take him for the better dog.
Trust me, I consider him the better dog.
LORD. Thou art a fool: if Echo were as fleet, I would esteem him worth a dozen such. You are a fool: if Echo were as fast, I would consider him worth a dozen such.
But sup them well, and look unto them all;
But feed them well, and look after them all;
To-morrow I intend to hunt again.
FIRST HUNTSMAN. I will, my lord.
LORD. [ Sees Sly.] What's here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe?
What is this here? A man dead, or drunk? See, does he breathe?
SECOND HUNTSMAN. He breathes, my lord. Were he not warm'd with ale,
If he were not warmed with alcohol,
This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.
This would be too cold a bed for him to sleep so soundly.
LORD. O monstrous beast! how like a swine he lies!
Oh monstrous beast! He sleeps so much like a pig!
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
Grim death, how disgusting is your image!
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
Gentlemen, I will experiment on this drunken man.
What think you, if he were convey'd to bed,
What do you think, if he were taken to a bed,
Wrapp'd in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,
Wrapped in the best of clothes, rings put on his fingers,
A most delicious banquet by his bed, And brave attendants near him when he wakes,
And good servants near him when he wakes,
Would not the beggar then forget himself?
Would the beggar not then forget who he was?
FIRST HUNTSMAN. Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose. SECOND HUNTSMAN. It would seem strange unto him when he wak'd. It would seem strange to him when he woke.
LORD. Even as a flattering dream or worthless fancy.
Much like a dream or worthless fantasy.
Then take him up, and manage well the jest.
Then take him up, and do a good job with the joke.
Carry him gently to my fairest chamber,
Carry him gently to my most beautiful room,
And hang it round with all my wanton pictures;
And decorate it with all my nudes;
Balm his foul head in warm distilled waters,
Wash his disgusting head in warm, clean waters
And burn sweet wood to make the lodging sweet.
And burn cedar to make the room smell good.
Procure me music ready when he wakes,
Get me music ready when he wakes,
To make a dulcet and a heavenly sound;
To make a melodious and a heavenly sound;
And if he chance to speak, be ready straight,
And if he happens to speak, be ready straight away,
And with a low submissive reverence
And with low, submissive respect
Say 'What is it your honour will command?'
Ask, 'What is it your honor will command?'
Let one attend him with a silver basin
Let one man serve him with a silver bowl
Full of rose-water and bestrew'd with flowers;
Full of rose-water and decorated with flowers;
Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper,
Another carry the jug, the third a towel,
And say 'Will't please your lordship cool your hands?'
And ask, 'Will it please your lordship to cool your hands?'
Some one be ready with a costly suit,
Someone should be ready with expensive clothes,
And ask him what apparel he will wear; Another tell him of his hounds and horse, And that his lady mourns at his disease.
And that his wife is sad about his disease.
Persuade him that he hath been lunatic;
Persuade him that he has been a lunatic;
And, when he says he is--say that he dreams, For he is nothing but a mighty lord.
This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs;
It will be pastime passing excellent,
It will be an excellent pastime,
If it be husbanded with modesty.
If it is done carefully.
FIRST HUNTSMAN. My lord, I warrant you we will play our part,
My lord, I promise you that we will play our part,
As he shall think by our true diligence,
As he shall think by our true hard work,
He is no less than what we say he is.
That he is nothing other than what we say he says.
LORD. Take him up gently, and to bed with him,
Pick him up gently, and take him to bed,
And each one to his office when he wakes.
And each one do his job when he wakes.
[SLY is bourne out. A trumpet sounds.] [Sly is carried out. A trumpet blows.]
Sirrah, go see what trumpet 'tis that sounds:
Sir, go see what trumpet it is that blows:
Belike some noble gentleman that means,
It is probably some noble gentleman that intends,
Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
Traveling some journey, to rest here.