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The Taming of the Shrew Theme of Transformation

Transformation is one of the most important and pervasive themes in Taming of the Shrew. Closely related to the theme of "Art and Culture," it can involve physical disguise, changes in attitude and behavior, psychological changes, and even linguistic mutation. Unlike the kinds of transformation we're used to seeing in books (like, say, the Twilight saga – once a human turns into a vampire, she stops growing and developing and there's no turning back to her previous state), metamorphosis in Shrew is not always permanent and it's rarely genuine. To complicate matters, it's virtually impossible for us to pin down the play's attitude toward transformation – its stance toward the theme is just as slippery as the characters that undergo change. This seems to be Shakespeare's point – identity and meaning are never fixed.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Why does the Lord want to transform Sly from a beggar to a nobleman?
  2. Aside from physical disguises, what other kinds of transformations occur in the play?
  3. Can transformations be trusted? Why or why not?
  4. What are some reasons that characters willingly undergo change? Are these characters different or similar to characters that are forced to transform? Why?
  5. Just about all of the characters seem to undergo some kind of change, be it physical, behavioral, psychological, etc. Does Petruchio ever change? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Marriage incites or brings about the most dramatic and profound transformations in both men and women.

Katherine's transformation from shrew to obedient wife is not genuine or permanent.

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