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The Taming of the Shrew

A scene from The Taming of the Shrew

Introduction to the play

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?

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Cover of the Folger Shakespeare edition of The Taming of the Shrew

The Folger Shakespeare

Our bestselling editions of Shakespeare's plays and poems

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

The Taming of the Shrew in our collection

A selection of Folger collection items related to The Taming of the Shrew. Find more in our digital image collection

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in Taming of the Shrew
New Orleans, St. Charles Theatre. The Merchant of Venice (Mainpiece), Katharine and Petruchio or, Taming the Shrew (Afterpiece). Playbill, 25 March 1864
E.H. Sothern as Petruchio
Costume worn by E.H. Sothern as Petruchio. Leather jerkin and felt hat with ribbons, early 20th century

Essays and resources from The Folger Shakespeare

The Taming of the Shrew

Learn more about the play, its language, and its history from the experts behind our edition.

About Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew
An introduction to the plot, themes, and characters in the play

Reading Shakespeare’s Language
A guide for understanding Shakespeare’s words, sentences, and wordplay

An Introduction to This Text
A description of the publishing history of the play and our editors’ approach to this edition

Shakespeare and his world

Learn more about Shakespeare, his theater, and his plays from the experts behind our editions.

Shakespeare’s Life
An essay about Shakespeare and the time in which he lived

Shakespeare’s Theater
An essay about what theaters were like during Shakespeare’s career

The Publication of Shakespeare’s Plays
An essay about how Shakespeare’s plays were published

Related blog posts and podcasts

Teaching The Taming of the Shrew

Early printed texts

The Taming of the Shrew was first published in the 1623 First Folio, and that text is generally the source for subsequent editions. The only complication is a 1594 quarto titled The Taming of A Shrew that is not ascribed to Shakespeare and which has an uncertain relationship to The Shrew. While there are plot similarities, much of A Shrew is different from The Shrew, including character relationships, names, and much of the language. But since the framing story of Sly is continued throughout A Shrew, instead of being dropped after the initial scenes as in The Shrew, editors sometimes wish to include those Sly scenes in their edition. The Folger edition, like all modern editions, is based on F1, and does not include any additions from A Shrew.