The Taming of the Shrew Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Norton edition.
For God's sake, a pot of small ale. (Induction.2.1)
There are plenty of class jokes in the Induction, most of which revolve around the fact that Christopher Sly is a beggar and has no "class." Here, he demands a pot of cheap, light ale, drawing attention to the fact that even when he's hanging out in an estate where more expensive options are preferred, Sly doesn't really know any better.
Take him up gently, and to bed with him, (Induction.1.75)
The physical movement from the tavern to the Lord's house traces the disparity between Sly's status as a poor beggar and the Lord's status as a landowner and nobleman. (It also says a lot about the flexibility of the physical stage.)
The more my wrong, the more his spite appears.
What, did he marry me to famish me?
Beggars, that come unto my father's door
Upon entreaty have a present alms.
If not, elsewhere they meet with charity. (4.3.2-6)
When Kate complains that Petruchio starves her, she suggests she's treated worse than those who begged for food at her father's door. Kate is treated like a beggar, not simply because she's denied food, but because she's powerless to do anything about it. Despite her social rank, she is just as helpless here as Christopher Sly. Or is she? We're struck by her seeming lack of awareness when she reveals that her father's household often turned away beggars, who had to find charity "elsewhere." Does this make the audience feel less sorry for Kate? Or, does it merely draw out attention to the way women are seen as second class citizens? What's this speech doing here?