The Taming of the Shrew

Meaning Behind a Meaningless Induction 12th Grade

Perhaps the unknown purpose behind an induction, which even the most experienced readers have failed to explain, has finally come to light. Christopher Sly, the principal character in the brief Induction of The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare, acts as a drunken tinker tricked by a mischievous nobleman into thinking that in reality he is a lord. These characters and their short introductory story manage to depict all of the major themes of the entire play in just the first few pages. However, spotting these themes has proven difficult for many readers, who remain confused after reading this brief introduction and who overlook the big picture it presents. Indeed, the induction in this play-within-a-play has an oft-neglected yet important purpose in the comedy.

The first important topic covered in the prelude is power, a concept which becomes a preoccupation of the play’s characters. The Nobleman's decision to entertain himself at Sly's expense by using the tinker’s poor condition hints at how power is used during the rest of the narrative. Some characters decide to take their authority to the next level, in such a way that they abuse it. For example, Petruchio, a gentleman from Verona, beats a serving man for...

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