Study Guide

Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew

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Grumio is Petruchio's old servant. He has a tendency to interpret his master's speeches and commands in the most literal and ridiculous way imaginable. His misinterpretations, however, are responsible for producing some of the most comedic and virtuosic verbal performances in the entire play. Grumio would have been played by an actor with mad rhetorical skills and comedic chops. (This quality aligns Grumio with Shakespeare's other "rustic clown" figures – like the Dromio twins in The Comedy of Errors, who are also characterized by their dim-witted, literal-minded interpretations and word play.) Despite appearing to be a fool, Grumio is astute. He recognizes Gremio the "Pantaloon" for what he is – a silly old man who doesn't recognize when he's getting played. Grumio also reminds us that Petruchio is not really a lunatic when Petruchio begins his shrew-taming reign of terror.

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