Study Guide

The Taming of the Shrew Marriage

By William Shakespeare

Marriage

Act 1, Scene 1
Katherine Minola

KATHERINE, to Baptista
I pray you, sir, is it your will
To make a stale of me amongst these mates? (1.1.57-58)

This speech earns Kate a lot of criticism from the men in the play but Kate makes a good point about her father – Baptista does treat her like a "stale" (prostitute, laughing stock) when he offers to let Bianca's suitors have a run at Katherine.

Act 1, Scene 2
Hortensio

HORTENSIO
I promised we would be contributors
And bear his charging of wooing whatsoe'er.
GREMIO
And so we will, provided that he win her. (1.2.218-220)

We know that marriages are treated like business transactions between father and son-in-law. In the play, matrimony is also a thing to be negotiated among competing suitors rather than between a man and woman exclusively.

HORTENSIO
Tarry, Petruchio. I must go with thee,
For in Baptista's keep my treasure is.
He hath the jewel of my life in hold,
His youngest daughter, beautiful Bianca,
And her withholds from me and other more. (1.2.118-122)

Hortensio's insistence that Bianca is a "treasure" withheld from him by Baptista echoes Petruchio's earlier claims about the importance of "wiving it wealthily" in Padua. Although Hortensio's figure of speech is not as crude as Petruchio's overt equation of wives and wealth, the metaphor treads dangerously close – especially since Hortensio accuses Baptista of hoarding his daughter. Monetary wealth may not be as important to Hortensio as it is to Petruchio, but he does equate Bianca with a commodity.

Petruchio

PETRUCHIO
I come to wive it wealthily in Padua;
If wealthily, then happily in Padua. (1.2.76-77)

Although crude and offensive, Petruchio is completely up front and open about his fortune-seeking ways. Marriage brings happiness, not for love's sake, but because marrying a wealthy wife brings in a lot of cash, which, according to Petruchio, is happiness.

Grumio

GRUMIO
Nay, 'tis no matter, sir, what he 'leges in
Latin. (1.2.30-31)

When Grumio (who is supposed to be an Italian character like the rest of the cast) thinks that Hortensio and Petruchio have greeting each other in Latin (they actually spoke in Italian), he reveals his lack of formal education. Makes sense, he's a servant, not an upper-middle-class character. This little joke is also directed at Shakespeare's audience, many of whom also didn't know the difference between Latin and Italian.

Act 2, Scene 1
Baptista Minola

BAPTISTA
Faith, gentlemen, now I play a merchant's part
And venture madly on a desperate mart.
TRANIO, as Lucentio
'Twas a commodity lay fretting by you.
'Twill bring you gain, or perish on the seas. (2.1.345-348)

Baptista's metaphor gives voice to his role as a "businessman" in negotiating the marriage of Bianca. Marrying his daughters is a precarious business venture for him, as he seems that he stands to lose more than his daughter does.

Petruchio

PETRUCHIO
Be patient, gentlemen. I choose her for myself.
If she and I be pleased, what's that to you?
'Tis bargained 'twixt us twain, being alone,
That she shall still be curst in company.
I tell you, 'tis incredible to believe
How much she loves me. O, the kindest Kate! (2.1.321-326)

Petruchio obviously lies when he says Kate has agreed to marry him. His alliterative insistence that it was bargained "twixt [them] twain" underscores the fact that the marriage was bargained between Petruchio and Baptista, not between Kate and Petruchio.

Katherine Minola

KATHERINE
Of all thy suitors, here I charge thee tell
Whom thou lov'st best. See thou dissemble not. (2.1.8-9)

Contrary to what Kate says earlier in the play, it's not entirely clear that she is uninterested in matrimony. Kate's interest in Bianca's suitors and her reaction when Bianca refuses to share details suggests that Katherine really does want to get married.

KATHERINE
He'll woo a thousand, 'point the day of marriage,
Make feasts, invite friends, and proclaim the banns,
Yet never means to wed where he hath wooed.
Now must the world point at poor Katharine
And say, 'Lo, there is mad Petruchio's wife,
If it would please him come and marry her.' (2.1.15-20)

We've seen how a wife's reputation can influence and determine her husband's reputation and credit, but here, it's clear that Katherine fears marriage is yet another institute that will cause her public embarrassment and pain.

Act 3, Scene 2
Petruchio

PETRUCHIO
I will be master of what is mine own.
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my anything.
And here she stands, touch her whoever dare. (3.2.235-239)

Petruchio's words may be delivered when he plays the "role" of a domineering husband (as a part of his wife taming scheme) but his insistence that Kate is his property echoes the very real circumstance of all Elizabethan women regardless of their husband's attitudes – once married, women had no legal rights of their own.

Act 5, Scene 2
Petruchio

PETRUCHIO
Come, Kate, we'll to bed.
[…]
To Lucentio.  'Twas I won the wager, though you
   hit the white; 
And being a winner, God give you good night. (5.2.200; 202-204)

Petruchio's final words in the play and his insistence that he and Kate "got to bed" is emblematic of the way comedies always end in marriage and consummation. Presumably, order has been restored to the world. Yet, Petruchio's excessive bragging before he exits may also hint that Kate's final speech was delivered ironically, leaving Petruchio a bit off-balance and feeling the need to validate his masculinity and control.