This blog started out as Michael Doherty's Personal Library, containing reviews of books that normally don't get reviewed: basically porn and cult books. It was all just a bit of fun, you understand. But when I embarked on a three-year Shakespeare study, Shakespeare basically took over, which is a good thing.
Friday, February 14, 2014
Shakespeare Study: The Taming Of The Shrew (revisited)
I hadn’t yet finished my three and a half years of
Shakespeare study when I decided that I would be revisiting key plays.
Basically, what I decided is that whenever I acquired more Shakespeare DVDs, I
would re-read the play or plays in question. I first returned to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And now I’m returning to The
Taming Of The Shrew.
In March of 2010, here is what I read and saw:
The Taming Of The Shrew (The Yale Shakespeare; edited by
Thomas G. Bergin)
- The Taming Of The
Shrew: Critical Essaysedited by
Dana E. Aspinall
- The Taming Of The
Shrew(1980) with John Cleese, Sarah
Badel, Susan Penhaligon; directed by Jonathan Miller
- The Taming Of The
Shrew (1967) with Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack; directed
by Franco Zeffirelli
- 10 Things I Hate
About You(1999) with Julia Stiles,
Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt; directed by Gil Junger
This time around, I read the Arden Shakespeare edition,
edited by Brian Morris. The copy I read is the 2002 reprint. It includes an
excellent 149-page introduction, as well as lots of footnotes and some
Taming Of A Shrew, Morris writes: “A
Pleasant Conceited Historie called The taming of a Shrew. As it was sundry
times acted by the Right honorable the Earle of Pembrook his servants was
entered on the Stationers’ Register on 2 May 1594, printed by Peter Short for
Cuthbert Burbie, and published in the same year. Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew first appeared
in print twenty-nine years later in F (1623). The two plays are clearly related
in some way, and the similarity in their titles makes it difficult to be
confident which play is being referred to in the handful of contemporary
references which have survived. They seem to have been treated as identical for
purposes of copyright (pages 12-13). He then writes: “The two plays agree in
many respects. The main ‘taming’ plot is the same in both, and both have a
sub-plot of romantic intrigue; Christopher Sly appears in both plays; the shrew
is tamed in both by the same means. In both plays the husband behaves
scandalously at the wedding, starves his wife afterwards, rejects the work of a
Haberdasher and a Tailor, and misuses his servants. In both the wife is brought
to submission, asserts that the sun is the moon and pretends an old man is a
young girl. Each play culminates in a feast at which men wager on their wives’
obedience. In some places the dialogue corresponds closely, occasionally and
briefly word for word; in others, and for long stretches, there is no
connection. With the exception of Katherina (Kate) the characters have
different names, and one play is set in Padua, the other in Athens” (pages
13-14). Regarding differences between the plays, Morris writes: “A Shrew has three sisters, three suitors
and no rivalry. The Shrew has two
sisters, and rivalry between three suitors (Lucentio, Hortensio and Gremio) for
the younger of them” (p. 21).
Morris argues that The
Taming Of A Shrew is a bad quarto of Shakespeare’s original play. Regarding
the Induction, Morris writes: “Wentersdorf has created a most convincing case
for his conclusion that the framework of induction, interludes and epilogue was
complete in Shakespeare’s original version of The Shrew. Whether anything equivalent to the third interlude was
present or not it is impossible to say, but there would have been no necessity
for the compiler of A Shrew to invent
one at that point in the action, and so we may conclude that he was reporting,
however inaccurately, something which stood in the original” (p. 44). Regarding
how A Shrew came to be, Morris
writes: “It seems to me that the actor who played Grumio is primarily
responsible for the memorial reconstruction off A Shrew’s text. He recalls some of his own words, many of the comic
scenes in which he was concerned, he has a general sense of what others were
saying and doing when he was on stage, and no clear recollection of the
sub-plot in which he had no concern” (p. 48).
Regarding the play in relation to Shakespeare work, Morris
writes: “The Taming of the Shrew is
Shakespeare’s earliest comedy” (p. 61). “It might, indeed, be not simply
Shakespeare’s first comedy: it might be his first play” (p. 62). “No other play
in the canon refers so specifically and extensively to the county of his birth.
It may well be that when he began writing The
Shrew Shakespeare was making dramatic capital out of personal nostalgia,
recalling a countryside he had quite recently left” (p. 63).
Regarding the play’s appeal, Morris writes, “Part of the
theatrical appeal of The Shrew lies
in the succession of disguises, deceptions and misprisions which accompany the
contest for Bianca’s hand, and which stand in such sharp contrast to the
direct, forthright wooing of Katherina by Petruchio” (p. 83).
About the actual taming, Morris writes: “Biondello’s
entry, with his long description of Petruchio’s grotesque clothing and
knackered horse, builds up his eventual appearance on stage, but also allows
the audience to realize that the bridegroom is approaching his marriage
disgracefully unprepared. Petruchio’s point is that so is the bride. He
displaces her emotional unpreparedness on to his own garments and means of
transport, just as the dramaturgy of the scene displaces the simple sight of
him so arrayed on to the more explicit and telling verbal description” (p.
107). Again regarding the taming, Morris writes: “The plan is to confuse, to
baffle, to bewilder her by presenting her with a perpetual image of what he
thinks her behaviour ought to be. And it is important that Katherina should
fail to understand what he is doing. Throughout the play she is presented as
not particularly intelligent, and she never stops to analyse his behaviour, to
plan, to counter. She simply reacts, violently, to stimuli. In this respect,
too, she is like the animal: her reactions are ‘shrewish’” (p. 124).
Regarding Katherina’s famous last speech, Morris writes: “The
speech is rooted and grounded in well-known, sacred and serious expressions of
the duty of wives. Shakespeare cannot possibly have intended it to be spoken
ironically” (p. 146). “Petruchio enquires after the Widow and Bianca, and
instructs Katherina to ‘fetch them hither.’ But he adds: ‘If they deny to
come,/Swinge me them soundly forth unto their husbands.’ In other words, he
offers her the chance to use physical violence on the Widow who has insulted
her, and the sly and shrewish sister she has been itching to beat since Act II.
And it would all be legitimate, praiseworthy and ‘obedient.’ Katherina sees and
appreciates the clever, generous point he makes” (p. 148).
In a footnote, Morris informs us: “It was Pope who
labelled the first two scenes ‘Induction.’ The word does not occur in the Folio
text, which begins ‘Actus primus. Scoena Prima’” (p. 110). And at the bottom of
the dramatis personae, he writes, “The name Petruchio must be pronounced with
the ‘ch’ as in English ‘much’; never as ‘Petrukkio’” (p. 152). In a footnote
about the lines “Am I not wise?/Yes, keep you warm,” Morris writes: “The
allusion is to the proverb ‘He is wise enough that can keep himself warm’ …Katherina
implies that Petruchio has no more than minimum wisdom” (pages 210-211).
(As with A Midsummer Night's Dream, I will post film reviews separately.)
- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The
Shrewby Ruth Mitchell-This
is a volume in the Barron’s Book Notes series, and is intended as a study aid
for students. It features a scene-by-scene look at the play, as well as some
study questions. In the chapter “The Author and His Times,” Ruth Mitchell
writes: “The standards of production in publishing and printing operations were
not high. Sheets of manuscript could get lost as they were taken from the
playhouse to the printing shop by errand boys. This may have happened with the
last few sheets of The Taming of the
Shrew, which seems to be lacking the final scenes to match the introductory
framework of the Induction” (p. 3). In the section on the characters, Mitchell
writes: “Petruchio seems genuinely attracted to Katherina precisely because of
her independence and feistiness. Had docility and wealth been his only goals,
he could have joined in the competition for Bianca. And his crude language,
full of the often bawdy slang of the Elizabethan period, may seem a refreshing
change from the romantic clichés with which Lucentio woos Bianca” (p. 12).
Regarding Tranio, Mitchell writes: “Tranio speaks in verse (a sign of superior
thought and station in Shakespeare), whereas the other servants speak in prose.
In fact, he seems quite at home giving orders to these other, more clownish,
servants” (pages 16-17). And about the Widow, Mitchell writes: “She continues
to be so ungracious that Petruchio asks Katherina to address her speech on
women’s duty first to her. The Widow is a reminder of Katherina’s former self,
contrasted with Katherina so that you can see how much Katherina has changed”
(p. 18). And then in the chapter looking at each scene, Mitchell writes
(regarding Act II Scene i): “The noise of their dispute brings their father in
to part them. As he rebukes Katherina and soothes Bianca, you may get some
clues about the origin of Katherina’s ill temper. Her father seems to prefer
Bianca” (p. 59). And then, regarding Act IV Scene iii, Mitchell writes:
“Petruchio bursts out in a marvelously punning piece of insult to the tailor
based on sewing terminology. Tailors were commonly despised because they were
meek little men who spent their days in apparently unmanly pursuits but were
also able to cheat their customers easily. The Elizabethan audience probably
cheered Petruchio’s speech heartily” (p. 76). This book was published in 1985.
- Readings On The Taming Of The Shrewedited by Laura Marvel-This
is a volume in the Greenhaven Press Literary Companion Series, and is a
collection of essays on the play. In the opening essay, Marvel writes: “The
movement of the play from Christopher Sly’s evocation of Warwickshire in the
Induction to the play world of Kate and Petruchio’s Padua intimates Shakespeare’s
own position early in his London years: He is tied to the people and places of
home (the Slys were indeed familiar in Stratford), yet actively involved in a
new world of theater, a world based on money and upward mobility, as well as on
roles and role-playing, creative transformation of self and of sources” (p.
Regarding the Lord’s lines about what should be done with
Sly, J. Dennis Huston writes, “What is happening here is that the creative
impulse is taking hold of the Lord and he is becoming a playwright, imagining
the details of scene, costume, and even dialogue” (p. 44). Later in that same
essay, Huston writes: “Baptista’s initial exit in Act I, scene i, when he
conspicuously leaves Kate behind because he has ‘more to commune with Bianca’
is surely an emblematic statement of Kate’s exclusion from the family unit. And
a similar condition of isolation from society as a whole is suggested by the
way characters talk derisively about Kate in her presence, almost as if she
were not there at all. But if society isolates Kate by manipulating her,
Petruchio integrates her by manipulation” (p. 46).
Regarding the induction and the lack of an epilogue, Harold
C. Goddard writes: “All sorts of explanations for the artistic lapse have been
conjured up, the most popular being that the last leaf of the manuscript, in
which he did so return, was somehow lost or that the scene was left to the
improvisation of the actors and so was never reduced to writing. But surely the
editors of the Folio would have been
aware of this and could have supplied at least a stage direction to clear
things up!” (p. 53).
Lynda E. Boose writes: “In her suggestion to Petruchio to
‘Remove you hence. I knew you at the first/You were a movable’ lies the
disdaining insult by which Kate identifies her suitor as one of England’s newly
mobile social groups, either a vagabond or a social climber attempting to move
up” (p. 64). A little later in the same piece, Boose writes: “When he denies
her the cap that all the ‘gentlewomen wear’ by saying, ‘When you are gentle you
shall have one too,/And not till then,’ he again switches the reference from
her assumption of entitlement based on class status to one that makes it
contingent on the exhibition of appropriately submissive female behavior, a
standard of gender defined by male authority” (p. 65).
Regarding the line in the Induction where Sly calls the
Hostess “boy,” Juliet Dusinberre writes: “I want to argue that he calls her boy
because she is a boy. The Hostess must, in Shakespeare’s theatre, have been
played by a boy actor. But if Sly addresses her as a boy, then a new dimension
is added to the interchange. In his drunkenness he seems momentarily to refuse
to enter the play: to be, not a drunken beggar, but a drunken actor, who
forgets that his dialogue is with a Hostess, and thinks that the boy actor is
getting above himself. In other words, the theatrical illusion seems to be
tested before it is even under way. Is Sly a beggar, or is he an actor who must
play a beggar?” (p. 87). Sadly, Dusinberre later in the piece writes, “the
stage power of the female heroine,” “female heroine” being perfectly redundant.
I always expect more from people who are writing about Shakespeare.
Regarding Katherina, Robert B. Heilman writes, “Shakespeare
presents her binding and beating Bianca to show that he is really committed to
a shrew; such episodes make it hard to defend the view that she is an innocent
victim or is posing as a shrew out of general disgust” (p. 108).
John C. Bean writes, regarding Katherina’s lines to
Vincentio: “This emphasis on sunshine and greenness is significant because the
weather during their previous trip from Padua to the country house was
dominated by frost and cold. When Kate discovers laughter, the weather turns
springtime, for Shakespeare sees in Kate not a taming but a renewal and
rebirth. When she is liberated from shrewishness, she perceives the world with
new eyes and everything ‘seemeth green’” (p. 120).
This book was published in 2000.
- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The
Shrewadapted by Vincent Goodwin;
illustrated by Chris Allen-This is a volume in the Graphic Shakespeare
series. It’s quite short, and so a lot is cut. The Induction is cut completely.
Gremio is presented as a very tiny man with a walking stick. Though Katherina
is not present in the first scene and her lines are cut, Tranio still says to
Lucentio, “Marked you not how her sister began to scold and raise up such a
storm that mortal ears might hardly endure the din?” (p. 10). That doesn’t make
sense, for how could he have marked her when she wasn’t there? Petruchio’s line
to Hortensio, “Haply to wive and thrive as best I may” is cut, but Hortensio
still responds, “Petruchio, shall I then wish thee to a shrewd, ill-favored
wife?” (p. 11). Oddly, his famous “I come to wive it wealthily in Padua/If wealthily,
then happily in Padua” is also cut. The first time we see Katherina in this
version is when Hortensio describes her to Petruchio. The image is of her with
her hands on her hips, leaning forward as if reprimanding the reader. In this
book, when Hortensio returns with the broken lute, his head is somehow through
the instrument, which is stupid. Katherina’s line “asses are made to bear, and
so are you” is cut, yet Petruchio’s retort, “Women are made to bear, and so are
you” is left intact. Most of the wasp dialogue is present, but that section
ends with Katherina’s line “Yours, if you talk of tails! And so farewell.”
Petruchio’s great line, “What, with my tongue in your tail?” is cut. Lucentio
and one other character spy on Petruchio and Katherina during their verbal
spat, an odd choice.
The book has a big error. When Tranio and Gremio are
trying to impress Baptista and win Bianca’s hand, Baptista says, “I must
confess your offer is the best, Tranio” (p. 24). But Tranio is disguised as Lucentio.
In the play, Baptista simply says, “I must confess your offer is the best.” If
the book is to add a name, it must be Lucentio, for Baptista has never even
heard of Tranio. A very big error.
All the stuff before the wedding where they wait for Petruchio
is cut, which eliminates an important moment where Katherina is first shown to
be hurt by Petruchio (showing at least some attraction for him). The
Haberdasher is cut. Vincentio is cut completely. At the end when Katherina
responds to Petruchio’s summoning, he does not tell her to bring in the other
women. And her famous speech is completely cut, which is unforgivable.
This, like many of the Shakespeare books aimed at
children, seems to have been created by people who doesn’t understand the plays.
There are cuts that take away important points of the play, and of course bad
This book was published in 2011.
- The Taming Of The Shrewedited and with an introduction by Harold
Bloom-This is a volume in the Bloom’s Shakespeare
Through The Ages series, which collects criticism from various times. The
essays are presented chronologically. From the summary of the play at the
beginning of the book: “While the men might have thought Sly would willingly
leap at the chance to be a lord, he does not. Here Shakespeare is already
commenting on personal identity, the role of wealth, and the use of disguise
and trickery” (p. 6). From the section on key passages in the play: “Keep in
mind that Kate, from the start of the bet, was smart enough to realize that
something was going on even though she hadn’t heard the men discuss the bet.
She saw the servants come – first for one woman, then another, and then herself
– and surmised that doing what her husband requested would help him out; show
the other women that she was not the wild shrew that they had believed; and
make the other women, who had already been antagonistic to her, look bad”
Charlotte Carmichael Stopes, in a piece from 1904, writes,
regarding Katherina when men come to woo Bianca: “She had not thought of a
husband until then, but the idea was naturally suggested, just as she
discovered that both of the men desired
her sister. The awkwardness might have passed over; she might have consoled
herself on the sour-grape theory that Gremio was too old and Hortensio too weak
for her, that she would have no rival at home were but her sister married; but
her unwise father, not content with having discoursed openly of her vile
temper, repeats before her and others his desire to get rid of her, and offers
her to either of her sister’s suitors, without consulting her taste or theirs”
Harold C. Goddard, in a piece from 1951, writes: “And
though we have to allow for the obvious exaggeration of farce in his extreme
antics, Petruchio’s procedure at bottom shows insight, understanding, and even
love. Those actors who equip him with a whip miss Shakespeare’s man entirely.
In principle, if not in the rougher details, he employs just the right method
in the circumstances, and the end amply justifies the means” (p. 109).
Ruth Nevo, in a piece from 1980, writes, regarding
Katherina: “No one about her can penetrate her defenses, so great her need for
assurance. So determined is she to make herself invulnerable that she makes
herself insufferable, and finds in insufferability her one defense” (p. 132).
Later in that same piece, Nevo writes: “Petruchio has enlisted Kate’s will and
wit on his side, not broken them, and it is the function of the final festive
test to confirm and exhibit this” (pages 138-139).
Camille Wells Slights, in a piece from 1989, writes:
“Characters so universally equate personal with economic worth and so unabashedly
declare their economic motives that the effect is not individual
characterization so much as the establishment of the values and mores of an
acquisitive society” (p. 146). Later in the same piece Wells Slights writes:
“Bianca, like her sister, gains her independence through a lover who overcomes
the social conventions that confine her. Lucentio usurps the authority of both
fathers, supplanting his own father with a substitute and defying Bianca’s by
marrying her ‘without asking [his] good will’ (V.i.134)” (p. 154). Wells
Slights ends the piece with: “By presenting Kate’s transformation in a
play-within-a-play, he also allows the unsettling implication that this happy
reconciliation of individual freedom with repressive communal values is
possible only in a work of art” (p. 160).
Unfortunately, this volume concludes with a ridiculous
piece by Carolyn E. Brown, from 2004. She believes that Shakespeare intended us
to view Petruchio and Bianca as shrews, and Katherina as an innocent victim. I
am so tired of feminists re-interpreting everything through their narrow vision
and agenda. In trying to make Katherina a sweet, innocent woman, in describing
Act II Scene i, Carolyn E. Brown fails to mention one significant detail – that
Katherina has Bianca physically bound. Sure, it’s easy to fit things into your
narrow viewpoint if you leave out all elements that argue to the contrary.
Brown writes: “In this meeting with Bianca, isolated Katherine reaches out for
a meaningful, genuine conversation with her sister, addressing Bianca in all
seriousness and beseeching her to speak from her heart and to drop her shrewish
game playing” (p. 168). And then: “Bianca is adept and ‘shrewd’ at turning
situations to her advantage, especially at making herself look like the victim
and the good sister, as Petruchio makes himself look like the good master” (p.
169). Bianca is the victim in this scene. She is tied up with rope! It’s not
hard to look like the victim when the other person has tied you up. How can
Carolyn keep avoiding this one obvious detail? Later she adds, “At the
beginning of 2.1, we saw Bianca privately torment Katherine, but once her
father entered, we saw her play the innocent role” (p. 171). You mean, once her
father untied her? And how does Bianca privately torment Katherine from her
position of being bound? It’s not just that one scene that Brown doesn’t
understand. And it’s not just that one scene where she deliberately leaves out
important elements. She mentions how Petruchio treats the Tailor as evidence of
Petruchio’s brutish nature, but fails to mention that he makes sure the man
gets paid, which of course indicates that it was all a show for Katherina’s
benefit and not an indication of his true personality. She also writes:
“Shakespeare allows for the reading that Katherine breaks the lute over
Hortensio’s head not because she is uncontrollably violent but because she will
not let him take sexual liberties with her as her sister allows” (pages
172-173). Where the hell did she get that? What version of the play is she
reading? Is there some special edition designed for feminists and rape victims?
At least Carolyn at the beginning of her essay admits that she stayed away from
The Taming Of The Shrew for a long
time precisely because it didn’t fit well with her own personal viewpoint. It
wasn’t until someone else re-interpreted the play in a way that suited her own
tastes that she even gave the play a chance. It saddens me that this woman has
been allowed to teach at the college level (at the University Of San
This book was published in 2008.
- The Shrewby Charles Marowitz-This
play is an adaptation of The Taming Of
The Shrew. It uses much of Shakespeare’s dialogue, but cuts several
characters, rearranges certain scenes, and also adds contemporary scenes. It is
a much more serious, darker piece. In the introduction, Marowitz writes, “The
modern technique for brainwashing is, almost to the letter, what Petruchio
makes Katherine undergo. Deprivation of food, deprivation of sleep,
disorientation of faculties; cruelty camouflaged as kindness; a reversal of
moral values which turns the tormentor into a holy man and the tormented into a
hopeless sinner. Petruchio’s evil genie punishes Katherine for the greatest
crime of all – social rebellion. A woman she can be, she must be; but not her kind of woman – rather, the social
cipher that Baptista prefers, that Bianca unquestionably is, that Hortensio
would have all women be, that Petruchio labours to create” (pages 20-21).
This play begins with Act II Scene I of Shakespeare’s
work, with Bianca bound. After Kate has her line about revenge, she exits. And
Petruchio enters with Grumio, but it is not the scene where he and Katherina do
their verbal dance. It’s Petruchio’s first scene of the play. Hortensio enters from
the other side, and Petruchio tells him why he has come to Padua. Oddly, when
Hortensio tells Petruchio that Kate is rich, he uses the description that
Gremio gives of his own riches: “Her house within the city/Is Richly furnished
with plate and gold,/Costly apparel, tents, and canopies” (p. 31). Oddly again, he
then uses Tranio’s lines from the same scene of Shakespeare’s play: “Then three
argosies, besides two galliases/and twelve light galleys” (p. 32). And then
Petruchio goes to Baptista to woo Kate. Petruchio presents Hortensio as Litio (though I'm not sure there's much point to that in this version).
Petruchio’s speech describing how he’ll woo her is done as dialogue, with
Hortensio and Grumio firing questions at Petruchio. For example, Hortensio
says, “Say that she rail?” And Petruchio answers, “Why then I’ll tell her plain/She
sings as sweetly as a nightingale” (p. 35). In the Petruchio/Katherina scene, though the lines are Shakespeare’s,
the stage directions indicate that they’re to be said in a more serious manner,
particularly Petruchio’s. And then after “Marry, so I mean, sweet Katherine, in
thy bed,” a stage direction calls for Petruchio to grab Kate’s crotch, then
grab her wrists. Grumio forces Kate to put her hand in Petruchio’s, and then
holds her arm when Petruchio demands a kiss.
Then it goes to a contemporary scene, with Bianca and
Hortensio in modern clothing as simply Girl and Boy. And this too is a wooing
scene of sorts. But she leaves at the end.
We then go to the wedding, where Kate is being assisted
in preparations. The stage directions indicate, “KATE, standing motionless like
a doll, wearing a simple white shift; eyes straight ahead; a vague sense of
being the victim of some grim, unwanted social ceremony” (p. 48). Petruchio is
late, and when he arrives, he is wearing a bridal gown. He stands next to Kate
for a moment, and then the play goes right to the feast, skipping the ceremony
We then go to another contemporary scene, where the Boy
is jealous because the Girl spoke at length with another man at a party. The
Boy and Girl are engaged.
The play returns to Kate and Petruchio arriving at
Petruchio’s home. It is Hortensio that removes Petruchio’s boots. Grumio is
dressed as the Tailor, and presents both the hat and gown. It is after Grumio
as the Tailor has left that we go to the dinner scene, the reverse order of the
play. When Petruchio delivers his “Thus have I politicly begun my reign” speech
to the audience, the stage directions indicate “an overt psychopathic manner”
We go back to the Boy and Girl, who are arguing, this time
it being she who is suspicious of his activity.
Kate finally eats a bit. And Petruchio mentions the
“silken coats and caps and golden rings” (p. 70), but it doesn’t make sense
here, because the Tailor scene has already happened.
Grumio is disguised as an old man, taking the place of
Vincentio, who is cut from this adaptation. So the scene has a completely different
feel because Grumio is not really an old man and because he’s in on the scheme.
Grumio says his name is Antonia, and says he’s on his way to Padua to visit his
son, Petruchio. Kate goes a little mad, and then, oddly, we get some dialogue
from the Induction, with Kate in the place of Sly. Baptista says the
Messenger’s line, “Seeing too much sadness hath congealed your blood” (p. 74).
Grumio says the First Servant’s line, “Will’t please you drink a cup of sack?”
(p. 74). And Hortensio says the Second Servant’s line, “Will’t please you taste
of these conserves?” (p. 74). Kate says Sly’s “Or do I dream or have I dreamed
till now?” (p. 75). But then when Petruchio enters, he speaks Sly’s lines, such
as “Are you my wife and will not call me husband?” That forces Kate to switch
to the role of the Page who acts as Sly’s wife: “My husband and my lord, my
lord and husband./I am your wife in all obedience” (p. 76). Petruchio then
The final scene is done as a courtroom scene, with Kate
told to give her final speech. There is no wager, no Widow. The stage
directions indicate, “Obviously, she has learned this speech by rote and is
delivering it as if the words were being spoken by another” (p. 77). At one
point, she is prompted by Petruchio. The last line is “My hand is ready, may it
do him ease.”The contemporary Boy and
Girl, now married (or getting married), stand behind Kate.
This book was published in 1975.
- William Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrewby Luella E. McMahon-This
adaptation is done as a one-act play, so of course much is cut. It begins with
Baptista saying that he is firmly resolved not to have Bianca married until
Katherina is married. Some of the dialogue is Shakespeare’s, and some is Luella
E. McMahon’s. For example, Katherina’s first line is “Bianca -- always Bianca!” (p. 5). Interestingly, Baptista says to
Katherina: “How is it, girl, you have no
suitor? What of Tranio?” (p. 6). In Shakespeare’s play, Baptista doesn’t
even know the name Tranio until the end. Baptista says, “Lucentio, then?” In Shakespeare’s play, Tranio is disguised as
Lucentio, so they are sort of one and the same as far as Baptista knows. Then
Baptista suggests, “Vincentio -- perhaps?”
It goes right from that scene to the scene where Bianca
is bound. Of the suitors to Bianca, Katherina mentions Hortensio and someone
named Marcio. Petruchio then enters and talks with Baptista, though the scene
where Hortensio tells Petruchio about Katherina is cut, thus so are the lines
where Petruchio explains why he is in Padua. Biondello, in this version, is
Baptista’s servant. He enters to explain that Katherina has hit her teacher
with the lute. We don’t actually see the broken lute in this version. The
wooing scene is left largely intact, with the jokes about asses and the “tongue in your tail.” After Petruchio
says he’ll marry her, the stage directions indicate she hits him again. And
then “he turns her over his knee, gives
her a couple of slaps” (p. 15). At the end of the scene, she slaps him
Biondello then addresses the audience, stepping out of
the play to remark on it: “Now, in those
days, a father’s authority prevailed even over a shrewish daughter, so on the
next Sunday, in spite of Katherina’s violent protests, she and Petruchio were
married” (p. 17). There is nothing about Petruchio arriving late for the
wedding, nor anything about his clothing or misbehavior during the ceremony. In
fact, Baptista says, “’twas a beautiful
ceremony” (p. 17). Oddly, two people entreat Petruchio to stay before
Katherina does and yet when Katherina does entreat him, she fails to actually
use the word “entreat.” Why cut the third “entreat”? After all, that’s what the
other two were leading to; it’s the third one that provides the punch. Instead,
Katherina simply says, “Now, if you love
me, stay” (p. 18).
In this adaptationthere is a character named Grumella, Petruchio’s housekeeper. Her
presence changes the feel of Petruchio’s abode, because now Katherina has a
female servant to confide in. And Grumella gives her advice on how to behave,
instead of Katherina figuring it out on her own. Though the Tailor and
Haberdasher are cut, the business with the hat is still included.
A scroll is sent to them letting them know of Bianca’s marriage
to Lucentio and Hortensio’s marriage to a woman named Maria. During the
sun/moon bit, Katherina says, “The sun
and moon change even as your mind” (p. 24), which makes sense, but lacks
that extra joke present in the original line, “And the moon changes even as your mind.”
The wager happens, but without the earlier words
exchanged between Katherina and Hortensio’s wife. At the end, Petruchio shares
his winnings with Katherina, and bids her to go shopping.
This book was published in 1969.
- The Taming Of Lola: A Shrew Storyby Ellen Weiss; illustrated by Jerry Smath-Obviously the title of this children’s book is a cute reference to the
play, and also a joke on “a true story.” On the title page it says, “A Picture
Book in Five Acts.” And there is a framing device, like the Induction in The Taming Of The Shrew. In this book,
the main story is told by a grandmother to her grandchild. So the book opens
with the grandmother settling down to tell the story. Act I introduces Lola, a
shrew famous for her temper. She has many brothers and sisters, not just the
one sister. Lola begins getting her own way. In Act II, her cousin Lester
arrives, and his temper is a match for hers. She hates him immediately. The two
begin screaming at each other, neither giving in. In Act III, Lester demands
Lola’s bed, and is given it by Lola’s father. Lola and Lester fight about this,
both ending up falling asleep on the floor. In Act IV, Lola and Lester start
arguing again and insulting each other. They’re so busy they don’t notice that
Lola’s entire family has left to go on a picnic. As it gets dark, Lola becomes hungry.
Lester keeps yelling, but Lola gets quiet. And then she tells him they’ve been
arguing so much they missed the picnic and their throats are sore, so they
should work something out. In Act V, they begin to get along. Lester leaves to
go back home. After that, things are quiet in Lola’s house, with Lola no longer
throwing tantrums. The book ends with the framing device, the grandmother
turning out to be Lola herself.
This book was published in 2010.
- From Farce To Metadrama: A Stage History Of
The Taming Of The Shrew, 1594-1983by Tori Haring-Smith-This book details the history of the way The Taming Of The Shrew has been staged but in England and the United States, and includes some photographs. In the chapter on the early stage history of
the play, Haring-Smith writes, regarding Shakespeare play not having the Sly
epilogue: “We can assume that Shakespeare revised The Shrew after 1594, omitting the anticlimactic Epilogue and
trimming the play to conform to the needs of a smaller company” (pages 7-8).
Later, in that same chapter, Haring-Smith writes, regarding The Cobler of Preston: “This adaptation
lacks humor, and its topical references to the rebellion of 1715 quickly dated
it. Johnson prolongs the story of Sly by running through it twice – Sly moves
from the alehouse to the lord’s mansion, to jail, then to his cobbler’s stall,
back to the lord’s house, and finally once more to his stall. Merely repeating
the plot in this way does not improve it” (p. 12). In the chapter on the early
twentieth century, Haring-Smith mentions one way of handling Sly: “At the end
of the Induction, Sly left the stage with the page on his arm as if the play
were about to be staged in another room of the house. He was never seen again”
(p. 83). Regarding modern dress Shakespeare, Haring-Smith writes: “Modern-dress
Shakespeare, a movement as strong and important as Elizabethan staging, developed
during the 1920s. Barry Jackson, its leader, agreed with Poel and
Granville-Barker about the value of replicating for modern audiences the
experience of Shakespeare’s audience at the Globe. But while Poel and his
followers tried to present Shakespeare’s works as the original spectators would
have seen them, Jackson and other advocates of modern dress translated the
plays into contemporary idiom. This technique, it was theorized, would remove
the barriers of three hundred years of social change. The first major
modern-dress Shakespeare was Jackson’s Hamlet,
staged at the Kingsway in 1925. Although some critics ridiculed this novel
production with headlines like “Hamlet
in Plus-Fours,” most who examined the production seriously thought it successful.
As Jackson had hoped, the new treatment forced actors to reconsider the play,
rejecting standard character interpretations and traditional stage business. In
modern dress, the characters seemed to become more human, and actors delivered
their lines with a more natural rhythm and emphasis. Some of the magnificence
of Shakespeare’s verse was lost, but the dialogue gained meaning” (p. 112). In
that same chapter, Haring-Smith writes, regarding a way of dealing with Sly at
the play’s end: “Instead of being carried off, Sly fell asleep during the last
act and remained in his box at the front of the orchestra, snoring, until the
last member of the audience had left” (p. 115).
This book was published in 1985.
- Shrew! by Richard A. Barbie-Kiss Me Kate isn’t the only musical
based on The Taming Of The Shrew.
There is also Shrew! Many of the
characters are the same as in Shakespeare’s play, but fathers become mothers in
this version. Baptista has switched genders and is mother to Katherina and
Bianca. Instead of Vincentio, we get Lucretia, mother to Lucentio (Tranio tells
the audience that Vincentio was killed – “stuck
in his olive press and squirted himself through the Pearly Gates faster than a
greased pepperoni,” page 6). And so the Pedant becomes a woman as well,
Fishmother. And Petruchio has a female servant, Maria, who takes the place of
The Induction is cut. Tranio directly addresses the
audience regarding Lucentio. When Katherina enters, she is smacking around a
servant. Tranio at first misunderstands Lucentio, believing he is pining for
Katherina not Bianca. In this version, Grumio is called Potso. Some of the “knock” business, which is often cut, is
included here. Bianca is not bound in her scene with Katherina, and she does
provoke Katherina to anger, and actually hits her with a mirror. It is a
guitar, not a lute, that is smashed over Hortensio’s head in this version. The
“tongue in your tail” bit is cut, but
Petruchio pinches Katherina’s bottom after saying “My remedy, then, is to pluck it out.” After Petruchio promises to
cuff her if she strikes again, Katherina slaps him, and he slaps her right
back. In this version, Katherina overhears Petruchio say that everything about
the meal and wine was in jest in order to tame her. She also overhears him say
he loves her. And she overhears him say, “Oh,
my Kate, grant that I might break away that bitter mask you use to hide from me
and still not break your spirit in the bargain.” This version has taken an
interpretation of Petruchio’s goals and turned it into dialogue, which is kind
of weak. Worse is the fact that the writer doesn’t know the meaning of “wherefore.”
He has Hortensio, while searching for Bianca, say: “Mistress? Lady Bianca? Wherefore art thou?” (p. 70). Ugh. There is no wager
in this version. Bianca simply refuses to pour wine, and Petruchio offers to
have Katherine do it. And she does. At the end of the book is a list of stupid
sound effects to be used to hit home every joke.
This book was published in 1977.
- The Tamer Tamedby John Fletcher-The Tamer Tamed is a sort of sequel to The Taming Of The Shrew. It was written
by John Fletcher, possibly in 1611, though the date is uncertain. The full
title is The Woman’s Prize, Or The Tamer
Tamed, but the edition I read just goes by the title The Tamer Tamed. This is The Royal Shakespeare Company Production
edition. Some of the character names were changed for this production, to align
them more with Shakespeare’s play. For example, in Fletcher’s play, Petruchio’s
servant is named Jacques, but this production uses the name Grumio. And Livia’s
elder suitor is named Moroso, but this production changes him to Gremio. In the
play, Katharina is dead, and Petruchio is now married to Maria, who goes about
the act of taming him. Some lines of this play are direct references to The
Taming Of The Shrew. For example, in Act II Scene v, Petronius (Maria’s father)
says, “I had rather see her carted”
(p. 39). In The Taming Of The Shrew,
Gremio says, regarding Katherina, “To
cart her rather.” And in Act III Scene v, Petruchio says, “For those are rarest, they are said to
kill/With kindness” (p. 66). In The Taming Of The Shrew, Petruchio says, “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness.”
This edition is without any annotation. This book was published in 2003.
- The Cobler Of Prestonby Charles Johnson-The Cobler Of Preston is an early
adaptation of The Taming Of The Shrew,
published in 1716. It’s actually just an adaptation of the Induction.
Christopher Sly (often called Kit in this version) is a cobbler, not a tinker.
Some of the lines come almost directly from Shakespeare’s play. For example,
Sly says, “You are a Baggage: Look’ee,
fay what you will of me, but don’t disparage my Family. The Sly’s came in with
Richard the Conqueror; and so let the World slide” (p. 2). Compare that
with Shakespeare’s lines, “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.”
Instead of burst glasses, we get broken mugs in this version. In this version
the Huntsman recognizes Sly when he comes upon his drunken form – “Why, Sir, this is our drunken Neighbour Kit”
(p. 3). Sir Charles knows him as well, and decides to punish him. So it’s not
just for fun that they play the trick on Sly in this version. They also play a
prank on Charles’ drunken butler, dressing him in Sly’s clothes. In this
version, it is the Chambermaid Betty who impersonates Sly’s wife, not a page,
which takes away a good deal of the humor of their exchanges. Sly does identify
himself as Christopher Sly at one point, but then says, “Am I not Kit Sly” (p. 13) rather than Shakespeare’s “Am I not Christopher Sly.” Like in
Shakespeare’s play, it is the promise of a beautiful wife that gets Sly to
begin to accept that he is a lord. A play is not performed for Sly, but there
is a song and then a dance done for him. When Sly is returned to his cobbler’s
stall and his wife, he is convinced that they are merely parts of his dream and
that he is still a lord.
The version of this play that I read is a facsimile of the
copy in the Birmingham Shakespeare Library. This facsimile was published in
1969 by Cornmarket Press.