The Taming of the Shrew

Changing Roles

Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, focuses a great deal on the character of Kate, the “shrew” of the story, and her transition from an unlovable, temperamental harridan into the picture of a perfect wife. Surrounding this tale of Petruchio and Kate are the comic antics of Hortensio and Lucentio as they scheme to win Bianca. Beyond this, one follows Tranio’s efforts to pass himself off as a noble and continue furthering Lucentio’s plots by engaging the help of a wandering merchant. Even further than this, outside of the plot entirely, is the rather odd introduction to the play in which a lord plays a prank on Sly, a worthless beggar, and makes him think he is a nobleman. All of these stories have one very strong, common theme underlying them. Almost all of the main characters engage in the changing of roles, whether by their own will or because of the actions of others. However, when all is accomplished, there is one character who has well and truly changed into a new person. All the switching of roles for schemes or jests simply emphasizes the genuine change of character in Kate.

The first change of roles, which gives a taste of what is to come in the main story, is the odd introduction of Christopher Sly. An...

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