The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
A pair of stocks, you rogue! (Induction.1.1)
It's curious that the very first line spoken in the play conjures an image of a "pair of stocks" (a wooden restraining device used to publicly punish and humiliate criminals). Sly is never thrown in the stocks but he does endure a very public humiliation at the Lord's estate. The specter of bondage and humiliation casts a very long shadow of the inset play as well. It's unsurprising when we find a similar reference to imprisonment and public taunting at the play's end. Compare this to 5.2.27 when Petruchio says Kate holds the other women "prisoner."
PETRUCHIO Nay, I will win my wager better yet And show more sign of her obedience, Her new-built virtue and obedience. See where she comes and brings your froward wives As prisoners to her womanly persuasion. (5.2.27)
As Petruchio brags to the guys about his power to summons Kate with a simple verbal command, he simultaneously casts Katherine as one who controls other women. Here, she drags the Widow and Bianca out to center stage, where she will soon punish their insubordination to their husbands with what amounts to a verbal spanking. Kate is both imprisoned and imprisoning. (Petruchio also seems to enjoy the fact that, as Kate's husband and commander, he is capable of controlling other men's wives by proxy.)
[Aside] To cart her rather: she's too rough for me. There, There, Hortensio, will you any wife? (1.1.1)
We've mentioned this quote in the plot summary but we think it's worth discussing in more detail. Grumio mutters under his breath here when Baptista suggests he marry Kate instead of Bianca. Grumio famously utters that he would rather strap Kate to a cart and parade her around town as a form of public humiliation and punishment for being a shrew. (This was a common legal punishment for convicted "scolds.") Critics have pointed out the similarity between this moment and what actually happens to Kate in the play – she's punished by Petruchio in a very public way, as when he makes her a laughing stock at their marriage ceremony.