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Language in the

Taming of the
Language is the backbone
of a literary piece as it
determines how it is
The language in The
Taming of The Shrew...
➢ Is written in prose, blank verse (Christopher Sly) and
rhyming couplets.

➢ It is used to show the battle of wits between Katherina

and Petruchio, hence enriching the builds of each
character. It aids in characterization.

➢ Also is utilized to give the audience an idea of what the

thoughts or intentions of the characters are.

➢ Lastly, the eloquence of speech has served as

something that provides individuals with more power.
Both Petruchio and Tranio are very persuasive speakers
who know how to use their words to get the desired
Language seen in The Taming Of the Shrew
● Soliloquy
● Asides
● Figurative Language :
○ Puns
○ Irony
○ Stichomythia
○ Alliteration
○ Allusion
○ Anaphora
➢ A non-realistic dramatic convention in which a character speaks
aloud to the audience his feelings, motives and decisions.

➢ In The Taming of The Shrew Shakespeare uses soliloquies to

reveal the intentions and innermost thoughts of the characters.

“Thus have I politicly begun my reign, And ‘tis
my hope to end successfully. My falcon now is
sharp and passing empty, And till she stoop she
must not be full-gorged, For when she never
looks upon her lure. Another way I have to man
my haggard, To make her come and know her
keeper’s call… That bate and beat will not be
obedient. She ate no meat today, nor none shall
eat; Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall
not. As with the meat, some underserved fault...”
一Petruchio 4.1.160-170
➢ A non-realistic dramatic convention in which a character speaks
in such a way that some characters on stage do not hear what is
said while others and the audience do.

➢ It may be a direct address to the audience revealing the speaker’s

thoughts, philosophy, motives and intentions.

Lucentio: [Aside] “Well begun,
Tranio.” 一1.2.221

Hortensio: [Aside] “How fiery and

forward our pedant is! Now for my
life, the knave doth court my love.
Pedascule, I’ll watch you better yet.”
1. Figurative
Figures of speech that depend on the non-literal meaning of words. It is
language which conveys meanings that are interpreted imaginatively rather
than literally. It creates layers of meaning which the reader accesses through
the senses, symbolism and sound devices. It allows for the reader to make
connections between the characters, the plot, and the deeper message of a
➢ A play on words that produces a humorous effect by using a word
that suggests two or more meanings, or by exploiting similar
sounding words that have different meanings.

➢ The use of puns in the play keep the comedy alive and it allows
Shakespeare to liven his characters by adding qualities such as
wit and attitude.

Katherina: “Yours, if you talk of tales.
And so farewell.”

Petruchio: “What, with my tongue

in your tail? Nay, come again.”

一 2.1.212-213
➢ Where words are used in such a way that their intended meaning
is different from the actual meaning of the words.

➢ It provides the audience with something to laugh about. It also

gives the audience a deeper meaning pertaining to what the
characters are speaking of.

“Say that she rail, why then I’ll tell her
She sing as sweetly as a

一Petruchio 2.1.166-167
➢ A dialogue carried out in single alternating lines by the speakers
which creates the impression of emotional intensity and fast
paced action.

➢ The pace of the battle of wits and arguments are set with the use
of this device. With this the audience can get the full impact of
the scene and chemistry between the characters.

Petruchio: “-Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.”
Katherina: “ ‘Moved’ - in good time! Let him that moved
you hither Remove you hence. I knew you at the first You
were a movable.”
Petruchio: “Why, what’s a movable?”
Katherina: A joint stool
Petruchio: Thou hast hit it. Come sit on me.
Katherina: Asses are made to bear, and so are you.
Petruchio: Women are made to bear, and so are you.
Katherina: No such jade as you, if me you mean.
Petruchio: Alas, good Kate, I will not burden thee, For,
knowing thee to be but young and light-

一 2.1.220-227
➢ A stylistic device in which a number of words, having the same
first consonant sound, occur close together in a series.

➢ This adds force to the quarrel/fast-paced dialogue between

Katherina and Petruchio. It becomes more enjoyable for the

Katherina: “What is your crest- a
Petruchio: “A combless cock, so Kate
will be my hen.”
Katherina: “No cock of mine; you crow
too like a craven”

一 2.1.219-221
➢ A figure of speech that refers to a person, place, object or idea of
historical, cultural, literary or political significance in order to
make a comparison

➢ Gives intertextuality to the play.

Petruchio: “-She will prove a second
Grissel, And Roman Lucrece for her
一 2.1.284-285

Tranio: “She may more suitors have,

and me for one. Fair Leda’s daughter
had a thousand wooers…… Lucentio
shall make one, Though Paris came
in hope to speed alone.”
一 1.2.236-240

➢ The deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in

order to achieve an artistic effect is known as Anaphora.

➢ It shows that the author is trying to emphasize a certain

point. Shakespeare is trying to bring whatever they're
repeating into the reader's attention

Petruchio: “Kate the curst...but Kate the
prettiest Kate in Christendom.”
一 2.1.193-194
EARLY COMEDIES Eustace M. Tillyard (2001)

There are two plots within the Taming of The Shrew:

• The Bianca Plot
• The Katherina Plot
➢ The critic starts off with stating that ‘It has been widely
held that Shakespeare did not write the parts of the play
that have to do with the wooing of Bianca’ as ‘the Bianca
portion is vastly inferior to the Katherina portion.’

➢ The Bianca plot is pure comedy while the Katherina plot is

comedy with farcial elements and is derived from folk-
themes capable of crude or gross treatment.

The Katherina Plot

➢ Petruchio is hero of a farce, not of a romance. Comedy is made from
situation: a shrew is to be tamed, a man is found to tame her, and he
proceeds to do so by many devices as can be developed in the time
available. The interest of the audience will be in the devices, not in the
persons who work them or upon whom they are worked. (Mark Van Doren,

➢ The abiding interest of the play consists in the stages through which for
both main characters love replaces pride.

➢ The taming of the Shrew consists of noting the stages by which both
Petruchio and Katherine -both of them, for in spite of everything the
business is mutual- surrender to the fact of their affection. 25
➢ While on the other end of the scale, Nevill Coghill (1950) is equally
emphatic that the play is not a farce and that Petruchio-Katherina
business is clearly motivated:

➢ The taming of the Shrew has often been read and acted as a wife-
humiliating farce in which a brute fortune-hunter carries all, including his
wife’s spirit before him, to the general but vicarious joy of hen-pecked
husbands. Yet it is not so at all. True, it is based on medieval conception
of the obedience owed by a wife to her wedded lord, a conception
generously and charmingly asserted by Katherina at the end. But it is a
total misconception to suppose that she has been bludgeoned into it.

➢ Katherina’s shrewishness is not just given, but cunningly motivated:
She is a girl of spirit, yet has to endure a father who has openly made a
favourite of her sly younger sister, and who is willing, even more openly, to sell
his daughters to the highest bidder… Thus environed, what choice has
Katherina but to show her disdainful temper if she is to keep her self-respect

➢ Petruchio, though a self-admitted fortune-hunter, is likeable: good-

natured and candid, though loud-mouthed and swaggering. To Katherina
he is the one escape from her horrible family.

➢ The defensive technique of shrewishness was no final solution of her

troubles. It was too negative. Yet she had adopted it so long that it
seemed to have become second nature to her. It is this which Petruchio is 27
determined to break in her, not her spirit
➢ Eustace says both critics are right in that they could advance valid
evidence for their opinions, and both are wrong in that they fail to take
everything into account, thus making Shakespeare’s play a tidier thing
than it in fact it is.

➢ Though in detail the shrew may be even better than is usually

thought, it remains in its chief outlines not quite consistent, not
completely realized or worked out.

➢ It is a comedy on the theme of appearance and reality, with the

excellent social moral that you must always be careful to look
below the surface. 28
➢ Petruchio has mastered the theme of appearance and reality.

➢ This is seen in the long courting scene (2.1) when Petruchio and
Katherina have their contest of wits and Petruchio shows delicacy
of feeling in giving her the chance of saving her face before the
rest if she should change her tune and accept him quietly

➢ He then arrives at the wedding in outrageous clothes. They are an

emblem that proclaims: these are to my true self what your own
shrewishness is to your true self; and each as well as the other
can change the assumed self for the true one.
➢ Contrary to Coghill’s belief, Tillyard says that Katherina’s violence is not a
psychological necessity. Protest can take other forms in civilized society
than those extremes of physical violence that provoke the primitive parts
of ourselves to easy laughter. Her actions are a figure or farce, not of

➢ Conclusively he says Shakespeare shows subtlety in the way he develops

Katherina. She wants to be loved and Shakespeare discloses this, not as in
the Taming of the shrew by direct self avowal but by the interest she takes
in her sister’s suitors.

➢ Katherina exemplifies the central comic theme of a person erring against

the way of the world and being brought to conform to it. 30
The Bianca Plot
➢ The Bianca plot however, is described to be inferior to the
Katherina plot, but also praised for being good in its own peculiar

➢ The sub-plot is plainly peculiar as in its virtues are brevity,

elegance, and delight in a piquant human situation. It does not
canvass attention, though it can spring surprises.

➢ There is a lack of ostentation in the frank conventionality of the

characters of the sub-plot. Lucentio is a little differentiated lover of
classical and Renaissance type. Bianca, better differentiated, is of
the mainly passive type. Biondello is the stock cheeky page and
Tranio derives from the clever slave of Roman comedy who is active 31
in promoting the action
The Bianca Plot
➢ Gremio is the elderly rich lover, destined to be thwarted or at least
scored off by his juniors.

➢ There is little life in the nominal hero (or victim) of the Bianca plot;
and it is Tranio who propels the action and who of all the
characters best corresponds with Petruchio in the Katherina plot.

➢ Tranio is noted to pace the Bianca plot when he personates his

master. He dominates the other suitors of Bianca from the
beginning. Meeting them and Petruchio, he asks in brisk rhymed
doggerel, the way to Baptista’s house. He is a quick thinker as well.
This is seen when he invents a reason why natives of Mantua had
better conceal their presence, thus gaining a fitting person to pose as 32
The Bianca Plot
➢ It is key in this critique when he speaks of the scene where Bianca,
Hortensio and Lucentio are having a lesson that becomes
interrupted by quarrel: ‘The picture of two quarreling men, each
intent on his amorous pursuit, indifferent to the art he is supposed
to be professing and yet advancing the correct commonplaces in
the defence of it, is classically comic.

➢ The two are so utterly off their guard, so vulnerable if watched. And
watched they are, first by the coolly rejoicing Bianca and then by
ourselves, who see what fools the passion of love has made of
these men and what a cat Bianca is in enjoying the quarrel.

The Bianca Plot
➢ Shakespeare put us into the perfect comic state of mind: superior
and detached, because at the moment we are not tempted to
comparable folly and malice; and yet social and sympathetic
because we know that this is the way you or I might behave in
comparable circumstances.

➢ For the rest of the scene Bianca takes control, with the quarrel still
spluttering in the background, and succeeds neatly enough in
putting the two lovers where she wants them.

➢ The comedy is light, but I cannot see how it could be bettered.


● Cambridge University Press’ The Taming of The


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