Son of Antonio, a resident of Verona, and intent on finding a wife, Petruchio arrives in Padua ready to take any woman so long as enough money is involved. Katharina's dowry is all that matters to him at the outset, but her cleverness and "shrewishness" seem to excite him genuinely.
The ostensible romantic lead of the play. Lucentio proves more conventional than his more outspoken and vivacious friend, Petruchio. Both men are well-off, but it is Lucentio who can claim a father "of incomparable wealth"; he hails from Pisa and has come to Padua to pursue his education. His purely academic goals fall to pieces, however, when he sees Bianca. For the rest of the play, Lucention single-mindedly pursues her.
The "shrew." When she first appears, Katharina lashes out at Hortensio and Gremio, shocking one spectator - Tranio - and delighting the others - us. She is consistently clever, strong-willed and vibrant, an attractive contrast to her sister Bianca. When she seems finally subjugated at the play's end, Shakespeare subtly suggests that she may yet have the upper hand.
The younger daughter of Baptista and the object of Lucentio's affection. Bianca's name means 'white,' and indeed she is rather colorless compared to her vivacious sister, Katharina.
A wealthy gentleman of Padua, father of Katharina and Bianca. He outspokenly prefers his more well-behaved daughter and has no compunction about referring to Katharina as "the veriest shrew of all."
Lucentio's principal attendant. He assumes Lucentio's identity in order to help him win Bianca's heart, and by doing so suggests that all that separates a master from his servant is language and dress.
One of Bianca's suitors. Pompous and foolish. Though posited at the outset as a significant rival, he soon enough takes Tranio's bait and runs off to marry a wealthy widow.
An old, foolish suitor of the young and beautiful Bianca. He is the only one of the various suitors in the play who winds up with nothing at the end.
Petruchio's servant. He often speaks his mind, playfully twisting words around, but he is very clearly a servant. He never gets the chance to play the master as Tranio does. Instead, both Petruchio and Katharina beat and ridicule him mercilessly.
Lucentio's wealthy father.
Another servant of Lucentio's.
Hastily courted and wed by Hortensio, the widow is rich, and therefore does not remain unmarried for long.
Another of Petruchio's servants.
From Mantua. When Petruchio tricks him into believing that all Mantuans are condemned to die, he disguises himself as Vincentio.
Insulted by Petruchio.
Insulted by Petruchio.
Nathaniel, Philip, Joseph, Nicholas, Peter
Servants, likewise insulted by Petruchio.
A drunken tinker, who is made to think he is a lord.
Passes by Sly and decides on the spur of the moment to dress him up as a lord.
The Taming of the Shrew Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Taming of the Shrew is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
At the end of Scene II, Act V, Katharina gives a moving speech on a wife's duty to her husband. We can take this speech about submission sarcastically, or we can believe that her love for her husband has superceded all else. I've always preferred...