Taming of the Shrew Critical Lens
Thomas Handy’s statement, “A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling, it must be more than the usual experience of every man and woman,” is very true, and The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare is no exception. There are many reasons why this story is quite unusual and there are experiences to keep it interesting. There are also many literary elements which lend to keeping this story exciting enough to be worthwhile to read.
The main literary element is characterization. The diverse array of characters make this story much more than an everyday experience in an average person’s life. One of the most interesting and exciting characters is Petruchio, the suitor to Kate. In the beginning of the story, he comes to Padua as a merry man, who enjoys having fun, and has come to Padua to “wive and thrive.” After he meets Kate and marries her, his whole personality changes to an outlandish madman of a sort. This is his attempt to tame her which works quite well. His personality becomes very harsh, and he is very brutal towards his servants. But at times he is also a jokester. He also purposely embarasses his wife at times. Petruchio’s witty remarks, insane behavior, and interactions with others keep this much more than something that would happen in every man or woman’s life.
Another part of the characterization that lends to keeping this interesting is the constant switching of roles. The main focus of this role switching is an attempt to marry Kate’s sister, Bianca. A rich man, named Lucentio switches place with his servant Tranio so he can tutor Bianca and proclaim his love. Lucentio, now “Cambio” eventually admits the truth to Bianca and wins her heart. However, another suitor for Bianca, Hortensio, pretends he too is a tutor, “Litio”, and proclaims his love to her also. She doesn’t like Hortensio as much as Lucentio, however. Tranio also finds a pedant to pretend he is Lucentio’s father, Vincentio, so he can sign the papers to turn over his dowry to him. With that, the marriage could take place. Other characters also trade places which keep The Taming of the Shrew a very exciting and worthwhile story.
The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare definitely “justifies its telling.” The characterization lends most to this. It makes it much more than the average, everyday experience of a man or a woman, and makes it a worthwhile story to read. The statement, “A story must be exceptional enough to justify its telling, it must be more than the usual experience of every man and woman,” is very true in The Taming of the Shrew.