Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Shakespeare's ability to make fun of his characters, his audience, and theater professionals (including himself) gives The Taming of the Shrew a playful quality. The play is introspective and invites the audience to consider the workings of the theater and the conventions of performance. It also invites the audience to consider its own social conventions and ways of being. Yet, these things are never done in a heavy handed way. Some critics say that it's a little too light in its attitude toward the tactics of "shrew-taming." Nevertheless, the sense of play and wit are pervasive throughout the text.