Mary Ronan Drew's Reviews > The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
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Feb 04, 12

Read from January 30 to February 04, 2012

Did you realize that The Taming of the Shrew is a play within a play? How could I have missed that? I think perhaps (don't tell anybody) I have never read it before. I'm carrying around in my memory a combination of Kiss Me Kate and Liz and Burton in the movie.

It starts with a drunken tinker, Christopher Sly, being tossed out of an ale house and falling asleep in the gutter. A lord comes by on the way home from hunting and has his people carry Christopher to the lord's house, dress him in fancy bedclothes and put him to bed. When he wakes up everyone tells him he is a wealthy lord and he has been out of his mind for 15 years and thinking he was a tinker. Then when a group of players arrive at the castle (sound familiar?) the real lord has them put on a play to entertain Christopher.

I read a couple of essays about the play and then read the play carefully using the heavily annotated Folger edition, and nobody was able to explain to me what this "Induction" as Shakespeare called it has to do with the play itself. Probably some sort of comment on "supposes" and metamorphosis (lots of references to Ovid) and change and acting. As so often in Shakespeare there are various actors pretending to be someone they are not.

One suitor for Kate's sister Bianca is disguised as a tutor, another as a music master, a servant is pretending to be his master, and a man off the street is dressed up to be the father of one of the suitors. Do I have them all? There may be more. I'm off to find a book about characters in Shakespeare pretending to be someone they are not.

2012 No 20
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