In this letter to you I am going to give you a nice summary of one of Shakespeare’s most famous and well known plays, The Taming of the Shrew! It is sometimes hard to understand which is why I will tell you about it instead of you trying to read it yourself, (since you will no doubt fail) so let’s begin.
This play goes into the “Comedy” section of all the categories of Shakespeare’s plays.
It starts out with a servant, named Sly who gets drunk after doing his duty to his master’s wife and falls fast asleep on a pile of hay. Then after a few minutes have passed his master comes and finds him asleep because of drink. Then the master decides he wants to make a fine game out of this; he dresses himself and his wife as servants, and he makes his companion pretend to be a girl. When Sly wakes up they treat him like the master and because of all the drinks he had he believes them. Then they decide to put on a play for him and his “wife” and so the rest of the story is a play, being held for this fake master by his fake servants.
The play is about this man who had two daughters, both are very pretty, beautiful even, except for the oldest is very, very, very rude. She is a shrew, nobody likes her, and nobody wants to marry her. But the younger daughter is very nice and polite and everyone wants to marry her. The older daughters name is Katherina, and the younger Bianca. Their father has decided that before Bianca can marry anyone someone has to marry Katherina. Then there comes this master and his servant who switches places because the master fell in love with Bianca, so to get close to her he becomes her teacher, and secretly tells her about the swap. Meanwhile, a man named, Petruchio, actually falls in love with Katherina and marries her, even though she is a shrew, promising all those who are watching that he will tame her. He does in fact tame her and Bianca marries her teacher/ master love.
The way that Petruchio tames Katherina, is by being even more of a shrew towards her, than she is to him. And it works effectively. By the end of the play Katherina is the most behaved, and controlled, also sweet, out of the sisters, and their friends. The end scene is where all the people that you have interactions with, even if for just a second, are having a feast, and make a bet on the wives that are present. The bet is that all the men who have their wives present, will call on their wife, and the one who comes without an excuse, their husband will earn a large amount of money. So each in turn call upon their wife, but only Katherina, the “shrew” actually comes. And when she does she says that her duty as a wife is this:
“Fie, fie! unknit that threatening unkind brow, And dart not scornful glances from those eyes To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor. It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads, Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds, And in no sense is meet or amiable. A woman moved is like a fountain troubled- Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty; And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it. Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper, Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee, And for thy maintenance commits his body To painful labour both by sea and land, To watch the night in storms, the day in cold, Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe; And craves no other tribute at thy hands But love, fair looks, and true obedience- Too little payment for so great a debt. Such duty as the subject owes the prince, Even such a woman oweth to her husband; And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour, And not obedient to his honest will, What is she but a foul contending rebel And graceless traitor to her loving lord? I am ashamed that women are so simple To offer war where they should kneel for peace; Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway, When they are bound to serve, love, and obey. Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth, Unapt to toll and trouble in the world, But that our soft conditions and our hearts Should well agree with our external parts? Come, come, you froward and unable worins! My mind hath been as big as one of yours, My heart as great, my reason haply more, To bandy word for word and frown for frown; But now I see our lances are but straws, Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare, That seeming to be most which we indeed least are. Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot, And place your hands below your husband’s foot; In token of which duty, if he please, My hand is ready, may it do him ease.”
And that, Friend, is my summary to you of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.