Study Guide

The Taming of the Shrew Induction, Scene 2

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Induction, Scene 2

  • In a plush bedroom in the Lord's house, Sly demands a pot of "small ale." (Historical tidbit: "small ale" is the Elizabethan equivalent of cheap, light beer.)
  • Sly is surrounded by servants who offer tasty snacks, expensive booze, and the coolest clothes, all of which Sly rejects on the grounds that he is Christopher Sly, the guy who eats discounted beef, drinks cheap beer, owns only one outfit, and often goes barefoot.
  • When the Lord insists that Sly act like a nobleman, Sly objects again and identifies himself as "Old Sly's son," the guy who can barely hold down a series of low-level trade jobs (peddler, card maker, bear keeper, tinker). If they don't believe him they can go ask "Marian Hacket, the fat ale wife," who will confirm that Sly isn't some rich guy.
  • Undaunted, the Lord and his servants apply even more pressure, insisting that this behavior is upsetting Sly's wife, his servants, and all his rich friends. They offer him more luxuries and tell him he can have anything he wants—music, mid-day naps, riding, hawking, hunting, pornography—all the things that the average Elizabethan nobleman adores. The final enticement is news that Sly has the hottest wife in town, and she really misses her man.
  • Sly wonders if he's dreaming and decides that no, he is awake and therefore he must be a nobleman. His first command as a "nobleman" is something like this: "Bring me my woman…and another pitcher of Coors light!"
  • As the Lords prepare Sly to see his "wife" by washing his hands and tidying up, they tell him he's been out of it for fifteen years. 
  • Sly is astonished. Fifteen years? 
  • Yep. They go on to tell him that he talked in his sleep a lot about being a beggar, arguing with the Hostess at a bar, and that kind of stuff. 
  • Sly thanks the Lord he's finally better. 
  • Bartholomew enters the room dressed like a woman and says all the things an obedient and loving noblewoman would say – "I'm obedient to you," and "not sleeping with you for the past fifteen years has been a real bummer." Sly orders everybody out of the room and tells Bart to take off her clothes and hop in the sack.
  • Bart is in quite a fix, so he says Sly's doctor has put the kibosh on sex for at least 24 hours, because it might cause Sly to relapse. Sly responds with a lame pun on his erection and says he'll just have to wait a little longer.
  • A messenger enters the room and announces that some actors want to perform for Sly as a "welcome back from your coma" gift. The messenger says that, according to the doctor, a play is just the right kind of medicine for a guy recovering from a fifteen-year-long nap.
  • Sly tells his wife to slide her bootylicious self on over next to him so they can watch the play together.

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