Study Guide

The Taming of the Shrew Language and Communication

By William Shakespeare

Language and Communication

In The Taming of the Shrew it's nearly impossible to talk about language without discussing power. In the play language is often synonymous with physical violence and, in some cases, speech acts are more harmful than combat or physical means of torture. Even when witty arguments are used as a device for comic relief or functions as a stand in for sexual foreplay, its relationship to power and hierarchy is undeniable. Language also goes a long way to characterize various figures in the play. As in any text, one's rhetorical skill can reveal a character's social standing, motivations, fears, and attitudes.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. What is the relationship between language and power in the play?
  2. Why is it so important for Petruchio to control Katherine's speech?
  3. Grumio has a tendency toward idiotic literal mindedness. Why does Shakespeare include scenes in which Grumio misinterprets so many commands and questions?
  4. How does Lucentio's speech change after he sees Bianca?

Chew on This

In the play, characters often demonstrate their power by controlling other people's speech.

The Taming of the Shrew often portrays language as though it is capable of causing physical damage.