The Taming of the Shrew Journal Prompts (by J. M. Massi)


In your journal, write at least one paragraph on each prompt. Work quotes from the play as well as dramatic terms into your sentences.

1. This is a play about acting and deception. Identify the different levels of acting and the different purposes for which acting is used.

2. In the Induction, servants to a nobleman put on a show for Sly, pretending that he is noble. At the same time, an acting troupe performs a show for Sly and his hosts. How does this affect Sly? Why does Shakespeare want us to see this? Why are these 2 types of acting--the real actors and the servants--both being used to perform for Sly at the same time? What does Shakespeare want us to see here?

3. Sly and company disappear from the play after the first act. Why? What do you think that Shakespeare is up to?

4. Look at the relationships between masters and servants-- Tranio and Lucentio in 1.1; and Petruchio and Grumio in 1.2. How do they compare? How would you characterize the two masters? Why does Petruchio tolerate Grumio? Look at 4.1. Why do Petruchio's servants stay with him after he abuses them so badly?

5. Look at Kate's and Bianca's first scenes togetheró1.1, and 2.1. Characterize their relationship. Notice that the first scene is played out in public, the second in private. How much of a shrew is Kate? Look at how Bianca handles her tutors in 3.1. What is she really like in private?

6. Why does Petruchio first address Kate as if she were sweet and loving? Does he stay with this strategy? Does it work at all? Why does he come to his own wedding in rags? Why does he postpone the wedding banquet? Why is he brutal to his servants? Why does he insist that the sun is the moon in 4.5? Does Kate give in?

7. Vicentio's arrival makes for a merry confusion, but notice Petruchio's immediate reaction when the Pedant claims that HE is Vicentio and the real one is a fake. Why is it vital that Petruchio make this mistake? (5.1.35ff.)

8. How are we to take Kate's speech on wifely obedience at 5.2.135ff.?