As you can see by the title of this post, I decided to go ahead and read The Taming of the Shrew before saying "Adios!" to February. I read this one faster than any of the three previous plays by Shakespeare I've read, and it was, by far, the most outrageous one yet.
As I did with Macbeth, I'm going to reveal the entire plot of the play, so if you are in the dark about this play and want to stay that way, this is your cue to leave.
So off he goes to ask Baptista for Katharina's hand in marriage.
In the meantime, we've met Lucentio who has recently arrived in town, instantly fell in love with Bianca (without ever having talked to her, I might add), and has concocted a plan to spend time with her while we all wait for someone to marry Katharina. He has his servant Tranio pretend to be him so that he can pretend to be a tutor for Bianca.
Back to Petruchio and Katharina. Baptista happily gives his shrewish daughter to Petruchio in marriage, and Petruchio's big plan to tame this crazy chick is to act crazier than her. He starves her, deprives her of sleep, and generally is the biggest nightmare you can imagine until she finally caves and becomes a docile, submissive little wife. Seriously. That's what happens.
So who ends up with Bianca? While Lucentio is pretending to be her tutor and wooing her, his man Tranio (disguised as Lucentio, remember) is vying for her hand in marriage and basically promises Baptista that between him and his father, Vincentio, he can make the best life for Bianca because he's the richest. Like pretty much, Baptista was holding a bidding war for Bianca. Not kidding. He conditionally agrees to give Bianca to Lucentio as long as his father, Vincentio shows up to validate everything that Lucentio has promised.
Are you still with me?
Tranio (still pretending to be Lucentio) hires a random old guy to pretend to be his father, Vincentio, and Baptista grants full permission for the wedding to take place. Tranio sends word to Lucentio that all's clear for the wedding at which point, the real Vincentio shows up.
Right before Vincentio is about to beat Tranio to death for killing his son (the obvious conclusion when he sees him wearing Lucentio's clothes and lying to everyone), Lucentio and Bianca show up and make peace. Even though Baptista at first is all, "What the devil just happened?!"
So then everyone sits down to a feast together and Petruchio demonstrates just how well he tamed Katharina by making a bet with Lucentio and Hortensio (I know I didn't talk about Hortensio, but didn't you have enough to deal with keeping up with the rest of this story?) that if they all three called their wives, Katharina would be the quickest to obey. And he wins the bet. I'll be sharing Katharina's final words tomorrow in our Word for Wednesday so tune in to see just how completely Petruchio managed to tame the shrew.
My biggest beef with this play is that in the very beginning, a random lord is playing a prank on this drunk guy named Christopher Sly in which he (the lord) has convinced him (Chris Sly) that he's some hoity toity lord himself and The Taming of the Shrew is actually a play being presented to Christopher Sly. And we never find out what happens to him. The end of The Taming of the Shrew, which is actually a play within the play, is the end of the whole thing. What's the deal, Shakespeare??
Other than that, The Taming of the Shrew is outrageously hilarious, and I definitely recommend it. I definitely liked it better than A Midsummer-Night's Dream, but not quite so much as Much Ado About Nothing. Or maybe it's a tie with Much Ado About Nothing. They're both hysterical.
What do you think? Did you follow all that? Have you read The Taming of the Shrew? What is your favorite Shakespearean work?