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The Taming of the Shrew

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The Taming of the Shrew

I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua.

Act 1, scene 2, lines 76–77

If I be waspish, best beware my sting.
Act 2, scene 1, line 223

Love and marriage are the concerns of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Lucentio’s marriage to Bianca is prompted by his idealized love of an apparently ideal woman. Petruchio's wooing of Katherine, however, is free of idealism. Petruchio takes money from Bianca’s suitors to woo her, since Katherine must marry before her sister by her father's decree; he also arranges the dowry with her father. Petruchio is then ready to marry Katherine, even against her will.

Katherine, the shrew of the play’s title, certainly acts much changed. But have she and Petruchio learned to love each other?—or is the marriage based on terror and deception? This is just one of the questions this play raises for us.

The dating of The Taming of a Shrew is complicated. A play of the same name, printed and performed in 1594, may have been an early or reported version. Shakespeare's play was printed in the 1623 First Folio. Its sources include other contemporary works.

Adapted from the Folger Library Shakespeare edition, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. © 1992 Folger Shakespeare Library


Further reading
Dana E. Aspinall, ed. Taming of the Shrew: Critical Essays. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Frances E. Dolan, ed. Taming of the Shrew: Texts and Contexts. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1996.

David Wootton and Graham Holderness, eds. Gender and Power in Shrew-Taming Narratives, 1500-1700. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

The Taming of the Shrew (1967, FAI and Columbia Pictures). Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Cast includes Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

Related movies
10 Things I Hate About You (1999, Mad Chance/Jaret Entertainment Production and Touchstone Pictures). Directed by Gil Junger. Cast includes Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Allison Janney.

Kiss Me, Kate (1953, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer). Directed by George Sidney. Cast includes Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, and Ann Miller. Based on the stage musical inspired by The Taming of the Shrew.
The Taming of the Shrew


Past Exhibitions: Unruly Women: Katherine

Folger Theatre

Production Diary blog: The Taming of the Shrew

Inside the Collection

Folios and Quartos from the Collection: The Taming of the Shrew

Read the Play

Folger Digital Texts:
The Taming of the Shrew

Teacher Resources

Unit: Using Music to Explore Shakespeare

Lesson Plan: Good and the Bad

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