The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 2

Synopsis of Act 3 Scene 2

The whole town has assembled for the wedding of Petruchio and Katherina, except the groom. Eventually a servant reports that Petruchio is on his way, but wearing ridiculous clothes, looking as if he hasn’t had a bath in a while and riding an old, diseased horse. Katherina and Baptista are horrified when Petruchio actually arrives and goes straight to the church saying he has no time to change. 
 
While the wedding takes place off-stage, Tranio and Lucentio meet in secret and plan to find someone who will pretend to be Tranio/ ‘Lucentio’s’ father and negotiate the wedding plans with Baptista.
 
Gremio arrives from the ceremony to report that Petruchio behaved with very bad manners throughout the service, compared to which Katherina was a perfectly behaved bride.
 
When the bride and groom emerge from the church, Petruchio says that they have no time to enjoy the wedding feast but must leave immediately to get to his hometown before nightfall. Katherina finally loses her temper and refuses to go. She tells him that he can go home alone but Petruchio insists. He pretends that she needs rescuing and, against all her protestations, forcibly carries her off.
 
All the wedding guests agree that Katherina’s husband is more disagreeable and bad-tempered than she is.

Carl Gehrts' Petruccio's Hochzeit 1885Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 2

rudesby: A rude and bad-tempered person.
 
spleen: Elizabethan medicine and analysis of temperament was based on ancient Greek theories about the imbalance of the four humours associated with certain areas of the body. Here, Katherina means Petruchio is wayward.
 
Who wooed in haste and means to wed at leisure: Katherina refers to a common proverb (marrying in haste and repenting it at leisure) which warned people against hasty decisions.
 
fortune stays him from his word: Events beyond his control (misfortune) preventing him from keeping his word.
 
old news: Shakespeare contrasts the pathos of Katherina with the comic stock character of the witty, wily servant, Biondello
 
jerkin: A short jacket worn by men. 
 
one buckled, another laced: Petruchio assumes a disguise by coming to his own wedding dressed as a madman. His bizarre choice of clothing not only publicly humiliates Katherina but makes him the target of Padua’s mockery. However, it is all part of his scheme. Disguise is invariably linked with duplicity (see Themes > Duplicity and disguise).
 
chapeless: A bare sword with no scabbard.
 
his horse hipped .. staggers: His horse is lame and has various equine diseases.
 
pieced with packthread: Held together with string.
 
caparisoned: Covered with a cloak-like piece of cloth.
 
kersey boot-hose: Course woollen material (originating from the Suffolk village of Kersey) to cover the exterior of boots and therefore likely to be worn and dirty.
 
mean-apparelled: Badly dressed.
 
Saint Jamy: Saint James – to swear by the brother of Jesus was regarded as less offensive than to swear by Christ.
 
gallants: Young gentleman who wore fashionable clothes.
 
doff this habit: Take off this outfit.
 
Tedious it were to tell: It is a long and boring tale.
 
Good sooth: Yes, in truth.
 
To me she’s married, not unto my clothes.: Petruchio highlights the importance of inner character rather than external appearances.
 
fit him to our turn: Tranio/‘Lucentio’ says they will find a suitable old man whom they can use to make their plans of securing Bianca succeed.
 
steal our marriage: Lucentio was thinking about running away to get married in secret, but Bianca’s other suitors are too watchful.
 
keep mine own: Bianca is discussed as if she is a piece of property.
 
narrow-prying: Suspicious.
 
Curster: Even more ill-mannered.
 
gogs-wouns: Blasphemy was illegal on the Elizabethan stage, but Shakespeare conveys the shock of Petruchio swearing in a church setting and hitting the priest. The original ‘God’s wounds’ refers to the wounds inflicted on Jesus when he was crucified.
 
vicar .. cozen: Petruchio acts as if anticipating that the vicar might cheat him of his bride.
 
quaffed off the muscadel: Muscadel is a strong, sweet wine. Petruchio noisily and quickly drank all that was available in church – by implication that used for Holy Communion (since other drinking would not have occurred in that setting), which would have been deeply shocking to onlookers. See Big ideas from the Bible > Last Supper, Communion, Eucharist, Mass. Priests always take care that wine which has been blessed is treated reverently, so throwing the sops (left-overs) in the face of the sexton was a further violation.
 
the rout is coming: The rest of the wedding guests are following.
 
the oats have eaten the horses: This comic inversion conveys that the horses are ‘stuffed’ with oats.
 
you may be jogging whiles your boots are green: Katherina tells Petruchio to get going while his boots are new and implies that it would be good to see him go quickly.
 
take it on you at the first so roundly: Katherina basically tells her husband to get used to her pleasing herself rather than obeying him.
 
stay my leisure: Katherina tells her father that Petruchio must wait until she is ready to go.
 
chattels: Petruchio insists others honour his wife’s wishes, whilst asserting his control (and ownership) of her. Chattels are personal possessions.
 
a couple of quiet ones: A worn-out Baptista is being heavily ironic.
 
though bride and bridegroom wants / For to supply the places: Baptista invites the guests to enjoy the feast even though the bride and bridegroom are lacking (wants). The couple’s enjoyment of a proper wedding feast is postponed by Petruchio until Katherina has gone through a fasting process. Fasting is seen as a spiritual discipline to purify the soul, signify repentance and aid devotion, while the feasting that follows is a form of spiritual celebration. See Big ideas from the Bible > Feasting and fasting.
 
Lucentio .. Bianca: Shakespeare plays with the dramatic irony that the real Lucentio whom Tranio is standing for will indeed supply the bridegroom’s place.
 
junkets: Delicacies. 
 

Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 2

  • The disguises taken on by the characters involve lies and deception at many levels
    • Lucentio and Hortensio (as tutors in Act 2 Scene 1, Act 3 Scene 1)
    • Tranio (as Lucentio)
    • Petruchio (as a mad-man) 
      • How do these disguises contribute to your understanding of each character’s personality and motivation?
  • Clothing, especially Petruchio’s eccentric outfit, is described in great detail in this play. How does clothing relate to identity and social status?
  • The ‘mad marriage’ is a source of much comedy to the guests, but not to Katherina or her family
    • What is Petruchio’s intention?
      • How successful do you think he has been by the end of the scene?
    • How does this marriage develop the theme of order and disorder?
 
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