Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespeare was one of the greatest poets of all time. What made him that poet? Why hasn?t he been forgotten? One answer was the fact that he wrote about ideas and concerns that remain close at heart with people of all cultures and backgrounds. His plays were not confined to local politics, and the ever changing religious practices of people at the time. Shakespeare sought a stronger base for his writings, a base that would not crumble with the tides of change. His plays displayed the elementary ideas of love, marriage, family, values, class distinctions, and relationships between men and women. While his plays may have been affected by the political and religious arenas around him, one can clearly see that Shakespeare chose subjects that would touch the heart, while not bruising a person?s pride.

The Taming of the Shrew had four main subjects: 1) marriage, 2) money, 3) class distinctions, and 4) love. While marriage and courtship were the main focal points of this play, the other three subjects were made very obvious. Shakespeare chose these elements for his play not solely because they were basic, he chose them because they grasped people?s lives in his day. While these subjects reached the heart, the thought of change was brought forth from these subjects. The change was not only in actions, but feelings as well. For example, Petruchio made it plain that he did not want to wed Katherine for his love of her, but instead he wanted to wed her for her money,

"Signoir 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,
Affections edge in me, were she as rough
As the swelling adriatic seas.
I come to wed it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua."
(Taming of the Schrew Act 1 scene 2 lines 66-77)

In this line Shakespeare pointed out that as long as another person had enough money in their possession, it did not matter how they acted, looked, or how old they were, the most important bond in the marriage was not love, but instead it was money. The key figure deciding who the bride would marry was not the bride. A woman?s father chose a husband for them from their class. There was a distinct class division in this marriage decision.

"O monstrous beast! How like a swine he lies!
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
Sirs, I will practice on this drunken man.
What think you, if he were conveyed to bed,
Wrapped in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,
A most delicious banquet by his bed,
And brave attendants hear him when he wakes,
Would not the beggar then forget himself?"
(Induction I line 37-44)

The induction of this play introduced us to a character named Christopher Sly. Sly was a beggar who was a slob, worse off, a slob of a lower class. A wealthy Lord came along and wanted to have some fun. Therefore, when Sly was unconscious because of over drinking, the Lord took Christopher into his own home, put the finest clothes on him, and acted as if Sly were the Lord when he awoke. Why would he deceive him like this?
"Persuade him that he hath been lunatic;
And when he says he?s Sly, 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,
If it be husbanded with modesty."
(Induction I Lines 68-73)

The Lord?s conviction, plainly and simply, was to change a man into what he was not. What was the result of this? Sly ended up stating,

"Am I a lord? And have I such a lady?
Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now?
I do not sleep; I see, I hear, I speak;
I smell sweet savors and I feel soft things:
upon my life, I am a lord indeed
And not a tinker nor Christopher Sly."
(Induction II lines 74-79)

Upon seeing the changes in Sly, one can conclude that he either began to think he was a different person, or just went along with the situation. In either case, this proves the induction fits perfectly in place with the main play.