The Taming of the Shrew Act 5 Scene 1

Synopsis of Act 5 Scene 1

Biondello urges Lucentio and Bianca to the church to get married, whilst Gremio waits forlornly for ‘Cambio’. When Petruchio, Katherina and the real Vincentio arrive at the real Lucentio’s lodgings in Padua they find that Tranio/‘Lucentio’ and Pedant/‘Vincentio’ are holding a big party. The Pedant/‘Vincentio’ tells the visitors that he is Lucentio’s father. The real Vincentio is confused and angry – he thinks that his son has been killed and that his identity has been stolen. Tranio/‘Lucentio’ pretends he doesn’t recognise Vincentio and calls a policeman to arrest him.
 
Lucentio and Bianca arrive and rescue Vincentio. Lucentio explains everything to his father and introduces him to his new wife Bianca. The three fakes (Tranio, the Pedant and Biondello) flee the scene. Neither Baptista nor Vincentio are impressed that Lucentio got married without their permission and that he played such a trick on them. 
 
Petruchio and Katherina have watched all this unfold and when everyone leaves, Petruchio asks her to give him a kiss. Katherina remembers that she said she would not argue with him and they kiss, even though they are in a public street.

Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Act 5 Scene 1

Woman in a Capotain by Nicholas Hilliard 1602The scene is full of farcical elements as Lucentio’s servants keep up the ruse, until all is revealed and they quickly run away.
 
I’ll see the church a’your back: Biondello says he will see Lucentio safely married.
 
some cheer is toward: Some celebration is commencing.
 
this is flat knavery: This is a downright lie from a villain. Petruchio initially thinks the real Vincentio is an imposter.
 
a means to cozen somebody: He means to cheat someone.
 
crack-hemp: Rope in Shakespeare’s day was made of hemp. The insult to Biondello indicates that he will soon be straining such a rope by hanging from it 
 
offer to beat my servant? Dare to beat my servant? Pedant/‘Vincentio’ is effectively keeping to his role.
 
copatain hat: A fashionable high crowned hat.
 
what ’cerns it you: What concern is it of yours?
 
coney-catched .. the right Vincentio: In solidarity for a fellow elderly man, Gremio is, as ever, suspicious of being cheated.
 
dotard: Foolish old man.
 
forswear him .. undone: The dramatic power suddenly shifts with Biondello’s desperate plea that the real Lucentio does not disclose the ruse they have all practised to such effect, but his kneeling to the true Vincentio results in a hasty exit for the conspirators.
 
counterfeit supposes: False assumptions. The deception that is practised by Lucentio and Tranio is humorous, but also has more serious implications. Duplicity is an attribute of the devil who Christians believe lies and disguises himself as an angel of light in order to entice people away from God’s ways.
 
Love wrought these miracles. Bianca’s love..: In fact it is cunning which has allowed Lucentio and Bianca to get their own way, which does not bode well for their future relationship.
 
good will .. content you: The merchant Vincentio recognises that part of the merchant Baptista’s distress lies in being cheated of his ‘bride price’ and is quick to allay his fears – the dominance of marriage as a financial transaction cannot be avoided.
 
My cake is dough: I have failed.
 

Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Act 5 Scene 1

  • Although The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy, more serious social issues are introduced, including reference to war and personal safety, filial respect and mental health. 
    • Which of these issues emerge in this scene and where?
    • How do these issues reflect upon broader themes in this play?
  • How has Tranio’s assumed identity influenced his behaviour and attitude to others?
    • How would you suggest to a director/the actor playing Tranio that he behaves, from his initial appearance until his departure, so as to maximise the comic reversal of his fortunes? 
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