Keep the following questions in mind as you read Acts 3-5 of The Taming of the Shrew. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.
What purpose does education serve throughout the play?
Are the parts the characters play in Shrew, i.e. husband, daughter, servant, Lord, etc., inherited or learned?
What does Lucentio mean when he calls Hortensio a “Preposterous ass” (3.1.9)? Does this epithet describe other characters? Which ones & why?
What does Lucentio translate and how does Bianca repeat the translation?
What sort of student is Bianca? Is she different than you expected? How does she transform her suitors?
Why the contraction of sex and syntax in Shrew 3.1?
What tactics do Lucentio and Hortentio use to persuade Bianca of their suit? Which is more successful and why?
According to Biondello’s report, how does Petruccio dress for the wedding and what what sort of horse does he ride? How is his footman attired? How do Baptista, Tranio, and Biondello react? Compare their reactions to Kate’s.
How does Gremio describe Katherine and Patruccio’s wedding? Why doesn’t Shakespeare stage the wedding? Why do we just get a report?
What sound rings through the church at the end of the ceremony?
Why don’t Katherine and Petruccio stay for their wedding dinner?
Is Shrew a criticism of excess? If so, who is the object of the criticism?
How are all the events at Petruccio’s house made possible by the initial absence of the hostess?
Compare Katherine’s education with Bianca’s.
How does education, in general, compare with the training of animals? What receives instruction, mind or body?
If the king is so absolute as to be the head, source, essence, origin, of power and hierarchy in the kingdom, then why is he so easy to imitate?
Why does Grumio rhyme so much? Why is there so much rhyming throughout Shrew?
What does Grumio tell Curtus about Petruccio and Katherine’s journey from Verona to the countryside?
What sort of lord is Petruccio? Is his managerial style successful?
What strategies does Petruccio use to “curb [Katherine’s] mad and headstrong humour” (4.1.189)?
What oath do Tranio and Hortensio swear to one another? Why does Shakespeare stage the oath the two suitors swear against (or beside) the two lovers, who also express their love for one another?
Is all school, “taming-school” (4.2.55)?
What do Tranio and Lucentio want from the Pedant? How does Tranio persuade him to comply with his request?
What sort of a host is Petruccio? What sort of hospitality does his house offer? How does Grumio imitate him? Why does he expect Katherine to do the same?
What time will Petruccio, Katherine, and the rest of the household leave for Baptista’s house?
Why is the Pedant so good at marriage contracts? Also, what are the conditions of Lucentio and Bianca’s contract?
What does Biondello mean when he says, “I cannot tarry, I knew a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for parsley to stuff a rabbit, and so may you sir, and so adieu, sir” (4.5.23-25)?
The road to Padua:
Do you agree or disagree with Jean Howard’s assessment of the famous scene: “Kate calls the sun the moon and an old man a budding virgin. Her words at this point no longer express her own perceptions, but her husband’s blatantly willing the reading of reality” (179).
How might we read the scene as an interrogation of the way in which perception works? In other words, what relationship between words and things does the scene establish?
Why do Lucentio and Bianca marry in secret (clandestinely)?
What are the conditions of the game the men play in the final act? How much does each man wager? What does each have to accomplish to win the bet?
How does Bianca respond? How does the Widow respond? How does Katherine respond?
What do you make of 5.2.140-84?