The Taming of the Shrew | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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The Taming of the Shrew | Quotes


Would not the beggar then forget himself?

Lord, Induction, Scene 1

On its surface this little quip reveals the lord's plan to trick Christopher Sly, but it also makes a broader point about theater. Just as the pleasant smells and fine clothing are intended to make Sly "forget himself," the sights and sounds of the stage help the audience to forget itself and enter the world of the play.


Am I a lord, and have I such a lady?/Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now?

Christopher Sly, Induction, Scene 2

This is the turning point in the Induction plot. At the beginning of this scene, Sly does a surprisingly good job of keeping his wits about him. As he wakes up surrounded by fine and expensive furnishings, he can't shake the feeling that something is wrong: this is not the life he remembers. When he hears about his beautiful wife, however, Sly finally loses his grip on his lowly past and embraces his new life as a nobleman.


No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en.

Tranio, Act 1, Scene 1

Initially, this little piece of proverbial wisdom seems like a poor fit for The Taming of the Shrew, since most of the men in the play are interested in profit, but not pleasure. But it ends up applying, in a perverse way, to Petruchio, who takes a cruel pleasure in bewildering Katherine with his odd whims and mood swings.


Faith, as you say, there's small choice in/rotten apples.

Hortensio, Act 1, Scene 1

Hortensio and Gremio are complaining about the difficulty of finding a husband for Katherine so they can proceed to woo Bianca. Katherine, Hortensio says, is a "rotten apple": in other words, it would be better not to marry at all than to marry her, no matter how rich her father is.


Wealth is [the] burden of my wooing dance.

Petruchio, Act 1, Scene 2

Petruchio plans to marry for money, and he's not afraid to admit it. In music, a burden is a low note sustained throughout an entire piece, like the drone of a bagpipe. Likewise, the idea of wealth never leaves Petruchio's mind when he is courting a lady.


Here's no knavery! See, to beguile the old/folks, how the young folks lay their heads together!

Grumio, Act 1, Scene 2

This is Shakespearean comedy in a nutshell. From As You Like It to The Tempest, many of Shakespeare's comic plots rely on a conflict between young and old. The young wish to marry for love and pursue their own dreams, but their parents demand obedience and respect.


O this learning, what a thing it is!

Gremio, Act 1, Scene 2

Gremio, hoping to gain an advantage over his rivals, has hired Lucentio (in disguise) as a tutor to Bianca. Lucentio promises to use the opportunity to plead on Gremio's behalf.

The old man is excited at the idea that Lucentio, with all his learning and sophistication, will be helping him to woo Bianca. Moreover, he is completely taken in by Lucentio's ploy. Although he does not realize it, Gremio is giving a young and well-spoken competitor a chance to get close to the woman they both love.


I never yet beheld that special face/Which I could fancy more than any other.

Bianca, Act 2, Scene 1

This may sound like Bianca is just waiting for Prince Charming, but it also reveals a very practical side to her character. If and when she is allowed to have suitors, Bianca is going to take her time in choosing a mate. This cool-headed approach sets Bianca apart from her eventual husband Lucentio, who is head over heels in love from the moment he sets eyes on her.


If I be waspish, best beware my sting.

Katherine, Act 2, Scene 1

This arch one-liner comes in the middle of Katherine's first meeting with Petruchio. The two trade insults, and Petruchio calls Katherine a "wasp." Katherine knows this is meant as a slur, but she immediately takes ownership of her waspishness as a weapon for dealing with Petruchio. Unlike the other characters, Katherine does not see her sharp temper as a problem but as an asset.


I see a woman may be made a fool/If she had not a spirit to resist.

Katherine, Act 3, Scene 2

By the end of Act 3, Katherine has survived the first major "taming" attempt. Petruchio has ruined their wedding and startled or offended the guests. Katherine isn't confused by this behavior: she knows Petruchio is out to make a fool of her. From this point onward, Katherine's "spirit to resist" is gradually worn down by Petruchio's antics.


She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,/My household stuff, my field, my barn,/My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.

Petruchio, Act 3, Scene 2

Marriage in this play is less a declaration of love and more an economic machination. Petruchio is simply an extreme example, a man who shows his true colors early and often. In this quote he claims to own Katherine in the same way he owns all of his property, and by Elizabethan law, what he says is true. Anything else that may come between them is icing on the cake.


What you will have it named, even that it is,/And so it shall be so for Katherine.

Katherine, Act 4, Scene 5

Throughout Acts 3 and 4, Katherine has continued to fight Petruchio's efforts to tame her. At this point she finally gives up. She is willing to agree with whatever Petruchio says, since angering him will only provoke more tantrums and abuse.


My cake is dough, but I'll in among the rest,/Out of hope of all but my share of the feast.

Gremio, Act 5, Scene 1

This is a bittersweet comic moment before the play's grand finale. Gremio admits he no longer has a chance of marrying Bianca. ("My cake is dough" means "my plans are ruined.") Still, he decides to attend the wedding feast and at least try to have a good time.


Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,/Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee.

Katherine, Act 5, Scene 2

Katherine's monologue at the end of the play shows the extent of her transformation. She has been so thoroughly abused by Petruchio that she now instructs other women on how to obey their husbands. In performance, this monologue is sometimes delivered sarcastically, to indicate that Katherine has not actually been "tamed."


Why, there's a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate!

Petruchio, Act 5, Scene 2

With this exclamation, Petruchio applauds Katherine's speech about wifely submissiveness. He has thoroughly bested his wife and is ready to celebrate.

Wench is a condescending term for a girl or young woman, especially a servant. Applied to the well-bred Katherine, it is an insult, or at best an irreverent joke. Petruchio's use of the word reflects his triumphant mood in this scene.

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