Study Guide

The Taming of the Shrew Act 4, Scene 1

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Act 4, Scene 1

  • Grumio enters Petruchio's country house, where Curtis and some other servants are prepping for the arrival of their master and his new wife. Grumio complains that he has been traveling from Padua with Petruchio and Kate and has been sent ahead to start a fire before they arrive.
  • Curtis begs for news and gossip about the newly married couple, but Grumio picks a fight with Curtis and slaps him around a bit.
  • Grumio says he's too mad at Curtis to describe what happened on the way home from Padua, but Grumio ends up narrating the entire thing by telling Curtis what he is not going to tell him. He says something like this: "If I wasn't mad at you, I'd tell you how Kate's horse stumbled and threw her off before it landed on top of her in the mud. I'd also tell you how Petruchio pounded me for what happened and how Kate tried to pull him off me but ended up getting even muddier. I'd also tell you how Petruchio swore like a sailor, Kate prayed, and I cried. But, I'm too mad so I'm not going to tell you anything."
  • Curtis says that Petruchio is more of a "shrew" than Kate and Grumio says that Curtis ain't seen nothin' yet.
  • Petruchio walks in and acts all wild. One moment he's calling his servants bastards and lackeys while kicking them around and the next minute he's telling Kate to relax and make herself at home.
  • Petruchio claims that the servants burned dinner and flings some food and dishes around. Kate tries to talk him down. She doesn't yet know that he's messing with her head and, besides, the poor girl's hungry—she didn't even get a piece of wedding cake. Petruchio announces that they're going to bed without dinner and trots her off to her room.
  • Peter says that Petruchio has put the kibosh on Kate's bad behavior by giving her a dose of her own medicine. Then Curtis tells us that Petruchio is in Kate's room lecturing her on self-control. Kate, of course, is dumbfounded, like someone who has just woken from a "dream."
  • Petruchio enters and delivers a long speech about how his plan to tame Kate has begun. He compares himself to a falcon tamer and compares Kate to a wild bird that must be broken. He'll starve her, deprive her of sleep (all while pretending to have her best interest in mind) until she breaks. This, he says, is the best way to tame a shrew.
  • Petruchio sort of puffs out his chest and challenges the audience to come up with a better way to get a shrewish woman in line.

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