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Deception _ Disguise by abstraks

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 Are Proud to Present

 The Taming
of the Shrew
By William Shakespeare

Education pack


Shakespeare‟s Theatre- Background                              p.3
Shakespeare‟s Theatre- Research Task                           p.4
Shakespeare‟s Theatre- Textual and Research Task               p.6
Short Synopsis                                                 p.7
Long Synopsis                                                  p.8
Character Descriptions                                         p.10
The Taming of the Shrew Wordsearch                             p.12
Character work- Drama Activities                               p.13
Deception and Disguise- Background                             p.14
Deception and Disguise- Classroom Activities                   p.15
Deception and Disguise- Drama Activities                       p.16
Family and the Institution of Marriage- Background             p.17
Family and the Institution of Marriage- Classroom Activities   p.18
Battle of the Sexes- Background                                p.20
Battle of the Sexes- Drama Activity and Classroom Activities   p.21
I Have a Dream – speech to accompany classroom activities      p.22
Kate‟s Final Speech and classroom activities                   p.26
The Context of Shakespeare‟s Plays- Source Work                p.28
Film Versions of The Taming of the Shrew                       p.31
Useful Books and Websites                                      p.32

                        Shakespeare’s Theatre

William Shakespeare was born in 1564, and died in 1616. He probably wrote The Taming
of the Shrew in about 1592, when he was 28 years old; it‟s one of his earliest plays, but
shows what a naturally-talented playwright he was. Like almost all of his plays, it was
based on an older story; in fact, there was a whole set of plays, poems and stories about
how to „tame‟ a troublesome and disobedient wife.

Shakespeare‟s version of this story would have been performed in a large, open-air London
theatre, which was called (imaginatively) „The Theatre‟. In shape, it would have looked
quite similar to The Globe:

When writing the play, Shakespeare would have been collaborating with the company of
Actors that he worked with, which was called The Lord Chamberlain‟s Men. Indeed, so
many people would have helped work on the play before it was produced, that it is
misleading to think of it as entirely „William Shakespeare‟s‟ work; he borrowed the story,
would have worked with other people when writing it, and the play itself might well have
changed each time it was performed.

The play would have been performed by an all-male company, on a blank stage, with no
„scenery‟, like you often find on a modern production. Costumes would have been
important, especially as one actor might play 4 or 5 roles in any one play. Plays were
shown in the afternoon, and audiences would have stood in the open-air to watch them,
unless they were wealthier, in which case they might have bought a seat further from the

                        Shakespeare’s Theatre
                       Research Task (ages 11-16)

Going to the theatre in Shakespeare‟s time would have been a very different experience to
going to a theatre today; it would be noisier, smellier, and there would have been a lot
more „audience participation‟, with the audience letting the actors know what they thought
of the play and its characters.

Research Task
Do some more research about what it was like going to the theatre in Shakespeare‟s day;
then make a poster for The Taming of the Shrew (or a play of your own), so as to make it
appeal to an Elizabethan audience as much as possible. Think about:

    What sort of people would be going to the theatre.
    What kind of plays they might want to see.
    How you can make the afternoon sound as appealing as possible.

The following websites might be useful:

                         Shakespeare’s Theatre
               Textual & Research Task (ages 14-18)

Textual & Research Task
Find out more about the performance conditions of Shakespeare‟s theatre; the following
websites may be useful for this:

Then try and identify 3 points in the play where you can see that the initial performance
conditions were important, and change the way we need to think about the play.

For example, look at the beginning of IV.6:

      Petruchio    Come on, in God’s name, once more toward our fathers:
                   Good Lord how bright and goodly shines the Moon.

      Kate.        The Moon? - the Sun: it is not Moonlight now.

      Petruchio    I say it is the Moon that shines so bright.

      Kate.        I know it is the Sun that shines so bright.     [IV.6.1-5]

The audience is in the open-air, and therefore knows that Petruchio is wrong; like Kate,
they can see the sun. This leads to a comic tension between what the audience can see, and
what they are being told, and makes them wonder (like Kate) what Petruchio is trying to

In the examples that you have found, how could you go about trying to recreate the original
performance conditions in a modern theatre? Would it be necessary and/or desirable to do

                                Short Synopsis
        Here is a short synopsis of the story to help you get a basic idea of the plot:

In the heart of the Italian city of Padua, famed throughout the world for the prowess of its
university, Lucentio, a new student from Pisa, arrives to begin his study of philosophy.
When he sees Bianca, the beautiful and popular daughter of a rich businessman, he falls
deeply in love at first sight. However, the lovers cannot be married as her father has sworn
that she cannot wed until Katharina (or Kate), her wild and rebellious older sister, has first
made a match.

Out of the midst comes Petruchio, a boisterous nobleman, firm and strong, convinced that
he is the man capable of „taming‟ Padua‟s „Shrew‟, Kate. If he can do so, then the prize is
becoming rich in an instant, thanks to her wealthy father. Whilst he is strapping and sturdy,
he has no idea what he is up against when he confronts her in a fight where the power is
always shifting. With her father‟s agreement, Petruchio commences his cruel training
programme, starving, sexing and striking Kate into apparent submission. Having met his
match, a woman of immense passion and character, he continues to curb her behaviour
until she becomes „the model wife‟; in the final scene, Petruchio and Kate host a dinner,
where her father and their friends are stunned to hear her lecturing her peers on how to be

                                 Long Synopsis
   A more lengthy synopsis of the play for more in-depth and detailed study of the play:

Lucentio (son of Vincentio of Pisa, who was born in Florence) has arrived in Padua to
pursue a course of studies in virtue and philosophy. His servants Tranio and Biondello
accompany him. Tranio hopes Lucentio will not be too stoical in what he studies and will
allow time for pleasure. Baptista Minola appears with his two daughters, Katharina and
Bianca, along with Bianca's elderly pantaloon suitor Gremio and a second younger suitor
Hortensio. Baptista asks they do not importune him further about Bianca, as he has
resolved that she cannot marry until his elder daughter Katharina has. They discuss her
roughness and shrewishness. Lucentio, standing nearby, is entranced with Bianca. Baptista
announces that Bianca will be schooled by schoolmasters in his house. The suitors plot to
provide the schoolmasters and to find a husband for Katharina. Lucentio also resolves to
pose as a poor schoolmaster and to have Tranio assume his role as the visiting Lucentio
and to act as a third suitor of Bianca. They exchange clothing. Biondello arrives and will
serve in the role of Tranio's servant.

Petruchio arrives from Verona with his servant Grumio, intending to see his friend
Hortensio. Petruchio's father Antonio has died leaving him with a small inheritance, and
now he seeks a rich wife. Despite her fearsome description, Petruchio wants to woo and
"board" her, and also agrees to present Hortensio to Baptista in the guise of a
schoolteacher. In the meantime, Lucentio has been recruited by Gremio to serve as a
schoolteacher and to school her in perfumed books of love and poetry. Gremio presents
Lucentio as Cambio to Hortensio, who informs him that he too has found a teacher, a
musician (i.e., Hortensio in disguise). Hortensio introduces Petruchio to Gremio.

Petruchio informs Baptista of his desire to wed Katharina, and wastes no time getting to
the question of the dowry. Baptista offers a generous one, and Petruchio asks that the
papers be drawn up immediately.

Katharina meets Petruchio; he calls her “Kate” and informs her that he will woo her to be
his wife. They spar verbally and she strikes him. He praises her virtues and says that he
plans to tame her. He names the following Sunday as the wedding date and says he is off to
Venice to buy the wedding apparel. Baptista marvels. He announces to the other suitors
that there will be a bidding contest for Bianca's hand. Tranio (as Lucentio) offers great
wealth and outbids Gremio, so Baptista announces that their wedding shall be the Sunday
after Kate's, assuming the settlement is as Tranio has offered. The teachers Litio/Hortensio
and Cambio/Lucentio vie for time with Bianca. Cambio/Lucentio disguises a profession of
love to her in his Latin lesson, but she is coy and says she does not know him.

The wedding day. Baptista and the others are worried that Petruchio has not yet returned,
and Kate weeps in humiliation. Finally Petruchio arrives in outlandish attire and with a
broken-down horse, dismissing the concern expressed by Tranio and Baptista. Tranio and

Lucentio plot to arrange a man to pose as Lucentio's father so that he can receive Baptista's
permission to marry Bianca. Gremio returns from the church and describes a mad marriage
in which Kate struck the priest and Petruchio threw sop in the vicar's face. Petruchio
announces that he must leave and take Kate with him, leaving the wedding party behind.
The shrew feels like a fool.

Petruchio's country house Grumio gripes to Petruchio's servant Curtis about his master and
the cold weather. He tells how Kate ended up in the mud under her horse. The servants
bring in a supper and simply to antagonise Kate Petruchio complains about the meat,
throws it at them, and demands they take it away. Later he tells the servants that he is
depriving her of sleep and food and subjecting her to criticism in order to tame her.

Cambio/Lucentio reads Ovid's Art of Love to Bianca, and Litio/Hortensio and Tranio
observe their affection. Hortensio reveals his true identity to Tranio. Tranio convinces
Hortensio to forswear Bianca and that he also will, in favour of Cambio/Lucentio.
Hortensio announces that he intends to marry a wealthy widow and Tranio informs Bianca
that he too is withdrawing his suit. After the others exit, Tranio encounters a travelling
Mantuan pedant and cons him into thinking he needs Tranio's protection from a decree of
death against Mantuans. They persuade him to take on the role of Lucentio's father,
Vincentio of Pisa, in order to convince Baptista that the required dower is forthcoming.
The pedant is presented as Vincentio by Tranio to Baptista. The wedding will proceed.
On the road to Padua. Petruchio calls the sun the moon, and Vicentio a fair maid, and she
consents at last to let him redefine her reality as he sees fit.

Padua, before Lucentio's house. Lucentio and Biondello conspire to get the priest and have
the marriage performed. Petruchio arrives with Vincentio and Kate. They knock at Tranio's
door, announcing the true Vincentio as Lucentio's father, but the pedant inside insists he in
fact is Lucentio's father. Lucentio arrives with Bianca, admits his true identity, begs his
father's pardon. Baptista is reassured by Vincentio that he will be adequately compensated
for the marriage. Kate kisses Petruchio in the street as he requests, to prevent his taking her
back home again.
Padua, Lucentio's home. All the characters are there. The lovers welcome the two fathers.
With the three women out of the room, Petruchio proposes a test to show which is the most
obedient to her husband. Bianca sends word back that she is busy and cannot come, the
widow likewise, but Kate comes willingly. Petruchio has won the wager. The women
return, and the other men bemoan their losses. Petruchio asks Kate to describe to the other
wives the duty they owe to their lords and husbands, which she does so lovingly. Petruchio
and Kate kiss and head off to bed as the others marvel at her transformation.

  Try and write down the story of The Taming of the Shrew so that you could explain
   it in 30 seconds. Turn this 30-second version into a rap. (Group, 11-16)
  Make a 10-minute play set in modern-day Padua with parts of Shakespeare‟s story;
   what do you need to change to make it up-to-date and relevant? (Group, 11-16)

                       CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS
KATHARINA - (Physicality – vibrant, reasonably tall, powerful looks) Known
throughout Padua as “The Shrew”, Kate is sharp-tongued and foul-tempered at the
beginning of the play. It is fair to say that her distemper and constant lashing out at the men
around her stems from her loneliness and unhappiness. Secretly she considers herself
undesirable and is totally jealous of her sister Bianca‟s remarkable talent of entrapping
men. She is an outcast. She hates society that states that she must find a husband to be
secure, and this leads to conflicting impulse, misery and seemingly eternal temper. Her
„shrewishness‟ of course back-fires, because the angrier she becomes the less desirable she
is. At Kate and Petruchio‟s first meeting we immediately see that Kate has met her match,
a man who can spar with her, her intellectual equal.

PETRUCHIO - (Physicality - Unclean, unshaven, somewhat attractive) The boastful,
swaggering cad that comes into town and announces to the heroine that he is the man to
“tame her.” He is unabashedly selfish, materialistic and determined to be his wife‟s lord
and master, but also realises that domestic harmony (based on his terms) would give her a
happier existence than that of a social reject. Petruchio goes to alarming lengths to tame
Kate, exhausting and starving her. He is a comic figure, a totally exaggerated persona who
gives us laugh after laugh. However, we also see with clarity that his domination embodies
that gender inequality that The Taming of the Shrew ultimately upholds.

LUCENTIO - (Physicality - “Beautiful”, prefably wistful and wide-eyed) A student, the
intrepid, lovesick Lucentio serves as a foil for Petruchio, reflecting the idyllic poetic view
of love that the pragmatic Petruchio dismisses. Lucentio‟s desire to marry Bianca is based
on romantic love, which until the climax of the play contrasts with Petrucio‟s financial and
ecomomic decisions to marry. Lucentio‟s love is of a theatrical nature and he is the „typical
lover‟ of the piece.

BIANCA - (Physicality - small, fair, dainty like candyfloss) The younger daughter of
Baptista. The lovely Bianca proves herself to be the opposite of her sister (Kate) at the
beginning of the play: she is soft-spoken, sweet and unassuming. Thus, she operates as
Kate‟s principle female foil. Because of her large dowry and her mild behaviour, several
characters are competing for her hand. Baptista, however, will not let her marry until Kate
is wed.

BAPTISTA - (Physicality - a bumbling old fool, grey hair, preferably round) Baptista
Minola is one of the wealthiest men in Padua, and his daughters become the prey of many
suitors due to the substantial dowries he can offer. He is good-natured, if a bit superficial.
His absentmindedness increases when Kate shows her obstinate nature. Thus, at the
opening of the play he is already desperate to find her a suitor, having decided that she
must marry before Bianca does.

TRANIO - (Phyisicality - The side-swept student, long-ish hair) Tranio is Lucentio‟s
servant and also student. He acts as Lucentio throughout most of the play, gaining the trust
of Baptista, securing the dowry and introducing the Pedant as his father, Vincentio of Pisa.
He is exceedingly intellectual and plays the role of his master with competence.

HORTENSIO - (Physicality - The silver fox, swaggering, elegantly dressed, a man of
leisure) Hortensio is a suitor to Bianca and an old friend of Petruchio. He lives in Padua
and offers his home to Petruchio during his stay there and courtship with Kate. He assumes
the identity of a schoolteacher named Litio in order to get behind the walls of Baptista‟s
house and woo Bianca, as well. It is his suggestion that Petruchio marries Kate.

GREMIO - (Physicality - Bent over and thin, he is old and should be put down!) Gremio
is another of Bianca‟s suitors. A wealthy elderly gentleman, Gremio tries to woo her
unsuccessfully. He is involved in trickery throughout the play.

GRUMIO - (Physicality - Dozy but charming) Grumio is Petruchio‟s servant, who travels
with him from Verona to Padua. Although he aids Petrucio in his attempt to train Kate, he
also fears his master‟s madness. He works with Kate to save both of them from Petruchio‟s

BIONDELLO - (Physicality- small, petite and dainty, youthful and sprightly) Biondello
is one of Lucentio‟s servants. He warns Tranio and Lucentio of Vincentio‟s arrival and
beckons the three wives at the end of the play to their respective husbands.

VINCENTIO - (Physicality - Dapper, obviously respectable and clearly wealthy)
Vincentio of Pisa is Lucentio‟s wealthy father. He only comes to Padua at the end of the
play to find his son. When he sees Tranio impersonating his son he fears that Lucentio is
dead. Tranio and the Pedant accuse him of being a madman and impersonator and try to
place him in jail. However, when all truth is revealed, Vincentio is happy to see his son
wed to Baptista‟s daughter, Bianca.

THE PEDANT- (Physicality- An adaptable, consummate actor. He imitates Vincentio)
The Pedant is a man from Mantua who Lucentio and Tranio persuade to impersonate
Lucentio‟s father, Vincentio. He assumes this noble identity and secures the marriage with
Bianca from her father, Baptista. When the actual Vincentio arrives on the scene, the
Pedant continues his role, calling Vincentio and impersonator and madman.

        The Taming of the Shrew Wordsearch

   Try this Taming of the Shrew word-search to test your knowledge of the
                             characters‟ names!

 I      R      Y      O      I      T       N       E      C      U         L
 X      K      T      I      S      U       L       W      P      R         A
 B      I      A      N      C      A       I       Z      E      C         O
 O      P      E      T      R      U       C       H      I      O         I
 E      L      U      C      H      S       R       G      J      M         T
 Q      C      L      I      P      A       D       U      A      A         N
 O      U      F      E      W      E       R       H      S      O         E
 I      R      O      H      D      Q       S       I      R      I         T
 M      T      A      Y      B      N       T       D      N      N         R
 U      I      Z      F      L      P       O       Y      P      A         O
 R      S      Z      I      A      J       R       I      U      R         H
 G      V      E      B      S      W       U       M      B      T         R
Katharina                               Lucentio
Petruchio                               Hortensio
Bianca                                  Biondello
Grumio                                  Padua
Tranio                                  Shrew

Character work- Drama Activities (all ages)
  Family Portrait-

 create a family portrait of all the main characters in the play, thinking about who is most
 dominant/central characters and how everyone should position themselves and inter-
 acting with one another. Then have someone pretend to take the picture and everyone
 freeze in position.

  In The Hot Seat-

 chose a person in your class to be in the „hot seat‟ as a character from the play, then
 have everyone else take turns to „quiz‟ the character about their lives and background.

  Chat Show-

 choose someone to be the chat show host, have different characters come on the show,
 choose a title for the show eg. „My father ruined my life!‟ or „My husband starved me!‟
 and have the chat show host interview the guests on the show.

                           Deception & Disguise
Petruchio justifies his eccentric wedding attire by telling the congregation, “To me she's
married, not unto my clothes”, implying that a man is what he is inside, and not always
what he appears to be. In the Renaissance world, social status was judged on physical
appearance, the physical illustration of one‟s wealth, nationality and taste. The rich dressed
with style and elegance while the poor were clad in worn cast-offs. When Petruchio denies
Kate the beautiful gown he has had made for her, he recognises that Kate is expected to
dress elegantly, in accordance with her social status. However, he insists that she wears
“Honest mean habiliments”, cruelly depriving her whilst promoting his „appearance

Throughout The Taming of the Shrew, like in many Shakespearean plays (eg. Twelfth
Night and King Lear), disguise and the theme of deception are crucial to the plot. Lucentio
disguises himself as Bianca‟s Latin tutor, Cambio, in order to court her alone, whilst his
trusty servant, Tranio, takes his master‟s place as the noble son of Vincentio of Pisa. This
trickery, is also adopted by secondary characters of the piece, including Hortensio who,
like Lucentio, pretends to be Bianca‟s tutor in order to win her affection, and subsequently
her hand in marriage. Similarly, Tranio commissions The Pedant to become Lucentio‟s
aged father, Vincentio, to consolidate the union between his „son‟ and Bianca. By taking
on the other characters‟ clothing, the characters of the play are able to blur the confines of
class, status, age and profession. Whilst the men of the play are temporarily triumphant in
their new identities, the deception is promptly thwarted by the appearance of Lucentio‟s
real father, Vincentio, revealing just how fragile their disguises are. Authenticity conquers
and deception is discovered.

Progressively, the question of identity itself is explored in the play. If a servant can become
a master when he wears a particular hat, can a rebellious women „play‟ at being a gracious
lady? Consequently, is Kate merely disguising herself as an obedient submissive wife in
the final scene or has she in fact been tamed? The apparently flawless Bianca takes
advantage of the disguised noble men who socially degrade themselves to court her, whilst
she, deemed significantly gentler and milder than her shrewish sister, defies her husband at
the completion of the play. No-one is who they originally appear to be.

                          Deception & Disguise

Classroom Tasks:

   Make a list of different „disguises‟ that are used in the play. How differently are they
    used in different parts of the play? (Ages 14-16)

   Think of different forms and methods of deception and disguise, for example:
       o Physicality (ie. how you move your face and body)
       o Masks
       o Costume
       o Voice
    What are the possible uses and limitations of each of these kinds of disguise? Think
    of examples that show these advantages and disadvantages, either in this play, or in
    other plays or films that you have seen. Does the use of disguise always have a
    moral dimension? (Ages 14-18)

What do you mean?!

   Think about how the way in which you say a sentence changes it‟s meaning. Take
    the example „Eats shoots and leaves‟; the title of the book about grammar and
    punctuation by Lynne Truss. Add a comma after eats changes the meaning
    completely, making the word shoots into the verb rather than the noun.

   Think of other ways in which you can change the meaning of what you say.

   How do different characters in play make people believe they are saying/ doing
    something different from what they actually are?

Drama Activities- for all ages

1.Four Way Play

Find four props which can be used to define four different characters; for example a
walking stick, or a child‟s toy. Then improvise a short scene using those particular props to
define their character. Then have the teacher clap their hands to tell everyone change props
on stage, swap roles and carry on with the action! Continue the process until everyone as
played each of the roles.

2. The Status Game (for this task you will need a set of playing cards)

Give each member of the class a playing card which they must not look at; they must place
this on their forehead so others members of the class can see what is on the card.

The class must then start walking around the room reacting to the status of the
number/picture on the card (Ace being lowest, King being highest) in order to try and work
out their own rank.

After a few minutes the teacher must clap their hands to tell them to freeze, then they must
explain that they must get into order of rank, highest and one end and lowest at the other by
guessing their own rank and looking at other people‟s cards, then clap their hands for them
to do so.

Once everyone is in a line, everyone must take their card off their forehead and see if they
guessed their status correctly.

             Family & The Institution of Marriage
As is the case of many Shakespearean heroines, both Bianca and Kate are motherless. In
The Taming of the Shrew there are several father/child relationships which deal directly
with attempts to secure marriages for their offspring. Even the Pedant is employed to
pretend to be a father trying to fulfil that particular purpose. This repeated pattern implies
that marriage concerns significantly more than a romantic union between the bride and
groom, and is, in fact, the transferring of the protective responsibilities of a father onto a

Unlike in plays such as Romeo and Juliet, deep emotional desire holds a secondary
importance to the condition of marriage. Amongst the Renaissance rich, marriage was a
complicated business contract which specified the property, goods and land which each
partner brought to the marriage, and their successive rights to the assets and income
accumulated by the union. This competition for marriage is like a game to the characters of
the play. While discussing the courtship of Bianca with Gremio, Hortensio says "He that
runs fastest gets / The ring" likening receiving permission to wed Bianca to winning a
race. In the game, however, women are treated like objects that can be bought and sold
rather than as human beings. This is expected since the society is a patriarchal one. For
example, Lucentio, Tranio and Petruchio are all defined with reference to their fathers and
all the elderly authority figures, like Baptista and Vicentio, are men.

Petruchio comes to Padua to “Wive it wealthily”, and even when warned of Kate‟s wild
temper, remains determined. In Act Two Petruchio offers himself to Kate‟s father as her
ideal husband:

      PETRUCHIO            Signor Baptista, my business asketh haste,
                           And every day I cannot come to woo.
                           You knew my father well, and in him me,
                           Left solely heir to all his lands and goods,
                           Which I have better'd rather than decreased:
                           Then tell me, if I get your daughter's love,
                           What dowry shall I have with her to wife?

      BAPTISTA             After my death the one half of my lands,
                           And in possession twenty thousand crowns.

      PETRUCHIO            And, for that dowry, I'll assure her of
                           Her widowhood, be it that she survive me,
                           In all my lands and leases whatsoever:
                           Let specialties be therefore drawn between us,
                           That covenants may be kept on either hand.       [II.1]

Whilst Petruchio is deliberately vague about the cumulative worth of his estate, Baptista,
desperate to get rid of Kate is most willing to form a match. Much more attention and care
is given to the marriage of the sought-after Bianca where Baptista negotiates the financial
growth of his own estate with her prospective husbands. No; while to our world these
negotiations seem heartless and distasteful, in Elizabethan England marital transactions
were both common and exceedingly practical.

                  Classroom Activities for All Ages

  Write down 10 qualities you‟d look for in a potential husband/wife.
  Think of a famous person who you would choose as your husband/wife and give
   reasons for your choice.
  Compare the qualities and famous people with people in your group and decide
   which qualities are most valid.

    How have opinions of marriage changed since Shakespeare‟s time? How does this
     change the qualities that would have been seen as positive then?

    What makes a good husband/wife? What is more important; looks, intelligence,
     money or humour?

‘Dating Agency’

Pretend you are reading adverts from a dating agency, from the descriptions below, choose
which person you would pick to be your perfect partner…

Who would you choose?

             Name: Katharina                   Name: Bianca

             Age: 25                           Age: 21

             Tall, dark, powerful looking      Small, fair, dainty and sweet
             woman, with a vibrant and         girl WLTM an equally
             feisty personality. WLTM a        beautiful boy to spoil her.
             real man!

              Petruchio                        Lucentio

              Age: 28                          Age: 23

              Tall, unshaven, manly man        Charming, beautiful ladies
              WLTM a woman who will be         man WLTM a pretty girl to
              what he wants be a proper        look good on his arm.

In groups discuss these various questions about family issues which relate to the play;
write down your answers to share in a class discussion:

    Think about your own family and what starts arguments between parents and their
     children, and which similarities create rivalry between siblings.

    Imagine: how would you feel if you were Kate and your sister, Bianca, was getting
     married before you?

    How would you deal with always being seen as beneath your younger sister by your
     Father, and being „left on the shelf‟ and seen as unsuitable for potential suitors?

    Would you want to prove your father wrong or would you feel ashamed and want to
     alienate yourself?

    Think about contrasting qualities in siblings; what reactions do particular attributes
     instantly create in society?

    Are these positive/negative judgements always fair?

      Do you think Kate and Petruchio prove the importance of having a strong will to be
       an individual? Both characters are not instantly acknowledged positively by their
       society, does this in turn make people more open minded when judging people‟s

                         The Battle of the Sexes

Many critics of the play condemn it for the blatant sexist attitude it has towards women,
but a closer examination of the play and the intricacies of its structure reveal that it is not
merely a story of how men should 'put women in their place'. The play is, in fact, a comedy
about an assertive woman coping with how she is expected to act in the society of the late
sixteenth-century, and of how one must obey the unwritten rules of a society in order to be
accepted in it. Although the play ends with her outwardly conforming to the norms of
society, this is in action only, not in mind. She assumes the role of the obedient wife, but
inwardly she still retains her assertiveness.

The taming of Katharina is not a women's shrewishness being cured, but rather a woman
being taught the rules of the 'patriarchal game'. Katharina is self-assertive and is therefore
able to control men, an action considered 'against the rules' of the game. The play ends
with Katharina proving that she is truly cured of her 'shrewishness' and is the most
obedient of the three newlywed wives; this is demonstrated in her soliloquy when she
lectures the other wives on the proper way in which a woman should behave:

                 “I am ashamed that women are so simple
                 To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
                 Or seek rule, supremacy, and sway,
                 When they are bound to serve, love, and obey” (Act Vii)

Although most critics interpret the play‟s action as being that of a woman finally acting the
way in which she is supposed to act, it is difficult to believe that a character as vibrant and
strong-willed as Katharina is changed so easily. Following with the devices of false
realities that Shakespeare set in place so early in the play, it would seem more logical that
Katharina would simply be acting the part of 'the obedient wife' in order to be accepted in
the society in which she lives. Katharina can 'play a part' very well and can even enjoy
doing it. This is shown on the road to Padua from Petruchio's house when Kate is forced to
address Vincentio as a woman and says, "Young budding virgin, fair and fresh and
sweet" (IVv). The obvious sexist attitude of the play does not hinder it because of the
reasons stated. One must also take into account the attitudes of sixteenth-century England
and how the outcome of the play has been interpreted through time. Katharina‟s final
speech has been performed sarcastically as an ironic doctrine of hate in an oppressed
marriage, offering a Feminist interpretation of strength and rebellion. The same speech has
been performed as a rehearsed monologue, written by Petruchio, for Kate to present at this
very occasion. We have also seen Kate physically forced into submission during this
speech, creating an enormously different effect to that of a contented and converted wife.

The relationship between Kate and Petruchio is a tempestuous one, doused in sexuality and
excitement. The core intrigue of their relationship stems from the confrontation of a power

struggle. Both characters need to be entertained romantically and both have the strength of
character to live up to each others‟ expectations. Our directorial perception of their
relationship is feisty, argumentative and a constant power struggle. At the outset of Kate‟s
taming she is despised by the men around her, her father is petrified of her, and she lives in
a frustration from which she cannot escape. At the completion of her training, a process
designed to make her socially acceptable in Paduan Society, she is exemplary, envied,
treasured, kissed and loved. She is not dominated, she is liberated.

                         The Battle of the Sexes
                          Drama Activity - All Ages

The Sculptor and the Clay –
a game to think about control between different people, to develop ideas of
domination of particular people particularly with regard to sexuality.

Get into pairs- one is person must be the clay, one must be the sculptor. The clay must start
in a neutral position then the sculptor must create a figure out of their own imagination,
moving their body parts into position and their facial expressions.

Then the teacher must clap their hands to tell them to stop, then clap their hands again to
allow the sculptures to come to life from the figure they‟ve been created in, moving on the
spot as a living sculpture.

KATE’S FINAL SPEECH- Tasks for All Ages

   1. Think about speeches which you have heard on the TV, from famous politicians or
      celebrities who have spoken about issues which they want to raise, either on a
      national, international or personal level.

      Brainstorm about who you‟ve heard make speeches, when they were used and what
      their purpose was.

   2. Read „I have a dream‟ by Martin Luther King Jr. (on additional page below

     What makes a speech effective? Is it the figure, the way it is said or the actual
      words that are most important?
     What techniques can you use to write a persuasive speech?
     Find a speech you like in a book/ on the internet, why drew you towards it? What
      makes it an effective speech?

   3. Write a speech based on something which you agree strongly about and think of
      ways of trying to persuade your audience to take in your argument.

                      Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream"

                              delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for
freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the
Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of
Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to
end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is
still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years
later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One
hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an
exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the
magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a
promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes,
black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as
her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the
Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are
insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check,
a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time
to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to
make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of
racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the
Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off
steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And
there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The
whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the
palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let
us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must
forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative
protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of
meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of
all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to
realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is
inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be
satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be
satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the
highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote
and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we
will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have
come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for
freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You
have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is
redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia,
go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this
situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream
deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold
these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former
slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice,
sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by
the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips
dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black
boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low,
the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the
Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we
will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail
together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new

               My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

               Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

               From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

          And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

          Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

          Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of

          Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

          Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

          But not only that:

          Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

          Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

          Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

               From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every
hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and
sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

          Free at last! Free at last!

          Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Kate’s Final Speech
Task for Ages 14-18

Kate‟s final speech in the play is printed below; read it and then answer the questions

      Fie, fie, un-knit that threatening unkind brow*,               *don‟t wrinkle your forehead
      And dart not scornful glances from those eyes,
      To wound thy Lord, thy King, thy Governor.
      It blots thy beauty, as frosts do bite the Meads*,             * meadows
      Confounds thy fame*, as whirlwinds shake fair buds,            * ruins your reputation
      And in no sense is meet* or amiable.                           * fitting
      A woman moved*, is like a fountain troubled,                   * angry
      Muddy, ill seeming*, thick, bereft of beauty,                  * ugly
      And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
      Will deign* to sip, or touch one drop of it.                   * want
      Thy husband is thy Lord, thy life, thy keeper,
      Thy head, thy sovereign: One that cares for thee,
      And for thy maintenance. Commits his body
      To painful labour, both by sea and land:
      To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
      Whilst thou liest* warm at home, secure and safe,     * you lie
      And craves no other tribute at thy hands,
      But love, fair looks, and true obedience;
      Too little payment for so great a debt.
      Such duty as the subject owes the Prince,
      Even such a woman oweth* to her husband:              * owes
      And when she is forward, peevish*, sullen, sour,               * aggressive, stubborn
      And not obedient to his honest will,
      What is she but a foul contending Rebel,
      And graceless Traitor to her loving Lord?
      I am ashamed that women are so simple*,                        * foolish
      To offer war, where they should kneel for peace:
      Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
      When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
      Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
      Un-apt* to toil and trouble in the world,                      * not suited
      But that our soft conditions*, and our hearts,                 * dispositions
      Should well agree with our external parts?
      Come, come, you forward and unable worms*,                     * weak creatures
      My mind hath been as big* as one of yours,            * proud
      My heart* as great, my reason haply* more,            * spirit / *perhaps
      To bandy* word for word, and frown for frown;                  * exchange
      But now I see our Lances* are but straws:             * spears
      Our strength as weak*, our weakness past compare,     * (as straws)
      That seeming to be most, which we indeed least are.
      Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,*                   * Lower your pride, for it is of
      no use

    And place your hands below your husbands foot:
    In token of which duty, if he please,
    My hand is ready, may it do him ease*.                 * Give him comfort

 Do you think Kate‟s final speech is a persuasive speech?
 What is it trying to say? In what different ways can it be interpreted?
 How does the meaning of the speech change when seen by a modern day audience?
 How would Kate‟s speech be received from a modern feminist perspective?
 When the speech is said is she playing the role of „perfect wife‟ or has she
  genuinely changed?

Then work in groups to share each others ideas and see how you could act the speech
out to make the play‟s final meaning different, and a different sex come out on top.

             The Context of Shakespeare’s Play
                      Source work for ages 14-18
No writer makes a play entirely out of their own imagination; everything they write is
influenced by the society they live in, and the cultural assumptions of their time. When
Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew, for instance, he was writing in a culture that
expected a woman to be obedient first to her father, and then to her husband. When women
(like Katharina) weren‟t obedient, they weren‟t always sure how to react, which might be
why Baptista is so despairing at the beginning of the play. In order to understand more
about the cultural background of the play, we need to look at how other people approached
the same basic dilemma – how do you make a woman do what she‟s meant to do?

Things to remember:
    Women in England in 1590 were thought of as their father‟s property
    When he decided who his daughter was going to marry, he would give her new
     husband a dowry, which would usually be money, land or property (like a new
    Then the daughter effectively become her husband‟s property, and it would be
     almost impossible for her to divorce him
    In the play, Baptista is a very rich merchant; whoever married his daughter could
     therefore expect to become wealthy overnight

Example 1:

                                The Taming of a Shrew:
                                The only way to make a
                                    Bad WIFE Good
                                        At least,
                          To keep her quiet, be she bad or good.

This woodcut and poem was produced in 1670, about 80 years after Shakespeare‟s The
Taming of the Shrew was first performed. It is meant to be advice from a father to a son
who is about to get married, and suggests ways to make a wife obedient.

How similar or different is this to what we see in Shakespeare‟s play? If it is different,
why might that be? What can we tell about how women were viewed in Shakespeare‟s day
from this? (Group)

                                     Example 2:
                      „A Merry Tale of a Shrewish and Cursed Wife‟

This 1200-line poem was written in about 1580, by a poet who remains anonymous. It tells
the story of a man who marries a shrewish wife, and tries to tame her. However, he uses
much more violence than Petruchio, locking her in the cellar and beating her with sticks:

      With that in his arms he gan* her catch;    * = did
      Straight to the cellar with her he ran,
      And fastened the door with lock and latch,
      And threw the key down him beside,
      Asking her then if she would obey.
      Then she said ‘Nay! for all thy pride’*     * ie. ‘No! No matter how proud you are!
      But she was master and would abide always*. * = always remain so

What does the existence of such violent poems tell us about attitudes towards women and
marriage in Shakespeare‟s time? How does it change how you view Shakespeare‟s play?

The poem‟s last scene tells of the wife serving her husband, parents and friends at a family

      The husband sat there like a man,
      The wife did serve them all that day.
      The good man commanded what he would have,
      The wife was quick at hand.

Look again at the final scene of The Taming of the Shrew, where Petruchio holds a very
similar feast.

Does the fact that Shakespeare „borrowed‟ the idea from someone else change how you
view the play? Can you think of any other aspects of the play that might have been
„borrowed‟? (Group)

Make a list of your 10 favourite films. How many of them are re-workings of an old story?

At the very end of the poem, the poet who wrote „A Merry Tale of a Shrewish and
Cursed Wife‟ challenges the reader to do a better job of taming their wives:

                         “He that can charm a shrewish wife,
                                   Better then this:
                     Let him come to me, and fetch ten pounds,
                                And a golden purse!"

How do you think we are meant to feel at the end of Shakespeare‟s play? Do you think
Katherine has been tamed? If so, should we celebrate this?

How differently do you think audiences might react to The Taming of the Shrew in 1595
and 2005? What are the most important changes? (Group)

        Film Versions of The Taming of the Shrew

There have been several filmed versions of The Taming of the Shrew made in the 20th
Century, some of which have taken unusual angles on Shakespeare‟s play.

The Taming of the Shrew (1967, Dir. Franco Zeffirelli)
Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the lead roles, Zeffirelli aimed to stay
close to the language of the play in this adaptation. This is the most famous adaptation to
keep the play‟s actual title, and is the most faithful to the text and spirit of the play.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999, Dir. Gil Junger)
Junger set Shakespeare‟s play in Padua High School in Seattle; Patrick Verona (Heath
Ledger) and Katarina Stratford (Julia Stiles) are the school‟s unlikeliest couple to get
together, but it happens none the less. Does for The Taming of the Shrew what Clueless did
for Jane Austen‟s Emma. „Adaptation‟ is perhaps too strong a word; Junger re-arranges the
plot, and entirely abandons Shakespeare‟s language.

Kiss Me Kate (1953, Dir. George Sidney)
This early technicolour musical uses The Taming of the Shrew as its background, but tells a
different story. Fred (Howard Keel) and Lilly (Kathryn Grayson) are a divorced pair of
actors who are brought together by Cole Porter, who has written a musical version of The
Taming of the Shrew. Of course, the couple seem to act a great deal like the characters they
play, and their relationship becomes rather like Kate and Petruchio‟s. A fight on the
opening night threatens the production, as well as two thugs who have the mistaken idea
that Fred owes their boss money and insist on staying next to him all night.

                    Classroom Activities (Ages 14-18)


    What are the advantages of adapting a Shakespeare play, and radically changing the
     setting? How successful do you think these films are in their adaptations? What
     could have been improved?
    Think carefully about what the directors choose to keep and discard from
     Shakespeare‟s plots when putting it onto film. Would you make the same decisions?

                      Useful books and websites


    Birmingham University provides a very useful site for those researching Shakespeare and his
    The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust holds the RSC archives as well as a huge collection of material
     on Shakespeare in performance.
    The Royal Shakespeare Company website houses a collection of images and articles on number of
     plays and themes in Shakespeare as well as thousands of digitised images.


    Cambridge Student Guide: The Taming of the Shrew, ed. Michael Fynes-Clinton and Perry Mills,
     Cambridge University Press
    York Notes Advanced Study Guide: The Taming of the Shrew, William
     Shakespeare, Longman


   A online teaching guide geared towards teachers working with English as a second language
   Acomplete online text edited by Roger Apfelbaum for the Internet Shakespeare
  The British Shakespeare Association is a portal for academics, teachers, actors and interested
  The Royal Shakespeare Company website houses a collection of images and articles on number of
   plays and themes in Shakespeare as well as thousands of digitised images.


    Tales from Shakespeare, Charles and Mary Lamb, Puffin Books, 1987
     A more simplified version of a variety of Shakespeare‟s plays, including The Taming of the Shrew
    The Taming of the Shrew, (Ed. Brian Morris), the Arden Shakespeare, London Methuen and

In-Depth Study

     'The Taming of the Scold‟ by D.E. Underdown in Order and Disorder in Early Modern England
      ed. Anthony Fletcher and John Stevenson, Cambridge University Press, 1985.
     Clamorous Voices, Shakespeare‟s Women Today by Carol Rutter with Sinead Cusack, Paola
      Dionisotti, Fiona Shaw, Juliet Stevenson and Harriet Walter edited by Faith Evans, The Woman‟s
      Press Ltd, 1988.
     Family Ties: English Families 1540 - 1920 by Mary Abbott, Routledge, 1993.
     „Petruchio‟ by Michael Siberry in Players of Shakespeare 4 ed. Robert Smallwood, Cambridge
      University Press, 2000.
     Shakespeare and the Nature of Women by Juliet Dusinberre, 2nd edition, Macmillan, 1996.
     The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977.
     The Tudor Housewife by Alison Sim, Sutton Publishing, 1996.
     Untamed Shrew by Germaine Greer and Christine Wallace, Richard Cohen Books, 1997.
     Women in Early Modern England by Sara Mendleson and Patricia Crawford, Oxford University
      Press, 1998.
     Women in Shakespeare by Judith Cook, George G. Harrap & Co Ltd, 1980.

Background to Shakespeare

     Shakespeare Court, Crowd and Playhouse, ed. Francois Laroque, Thames and Hudson, 1993.
     The World of Shakespeare by Anna Claybourne and Rebecca Treays, Usborne Publishing Limited
     William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life by S. Schoenbaum, Oxford University Press,
     Shakespeare‟s Language, Frank Kermode, Penguin Books 2000


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