Taming Of The Shrew, The
(cs, 1594; First folio, 1623)
This is one of the more stageworthy of the comedies. It is related to Gasciogne's Supposes. The work is preceded by an introduction concerning a drunken tinker who is picked up by a lord and his servants, who lead him to believe he is a lord of a manor. The play of the shrew is presented for his benefit. The central plot is simple. Petruchio, seeking a wealthy wife, is told of the handsome Katherina, whose violently shrewish disposition has led her father, her younger sister, and the latter's suitors to despair of finding a husband for her. The doughty Petruchio marches in an courts her with a bold and heavy-handed treatment, brooking no resistance. Once married, he continues to bully, override, and frustrate her until, work to exhaustion by his tornado tactics, she relents and becomes a gentle, dutiful, loving wife. It is not the bare accomplishment of this feat but the manner thereof that provides the rich, farcical comedy. The play is burdened with a conventional underplot, concerning the wooing of Katherina's sister, Bianca. This is of little interest and is frequently cut down in perfomance. The play maintains considerable currency in the modern theater. Within the recent years it was given a notable revival by Alfred Lunt and Lynn fontanne, and was the basis of the musical comedy, Kiss Me, Kate, with music by Cole Porter.
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