The Taming of the Shrew Contents
- Shakespeare, William
- 1564 - 1582: William Shakespeare's Stratford Beginnings
- 1582 - 1592: William Shakespeare's Marriage, Parenthood and Early Occupation
- 1592 - 1594: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 1
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 2
- 1594 - 1611: William Shakespeare's Life In London, part 3
- 1611 - 1616: William Shakespeare - Back to Stratford
- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- The theatrical context
- The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 2
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 1 Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 1 Scene 2
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 2 Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 2
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 2
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 3
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 4
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 5
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 5 Scene 1
- The Taming of the Shrew Act 5 Scene 2
Biondello and Curtis
Biondello is subservient to Tranio, but equally devoted to his young master, Lucentio. Like Petruchio’s servant, Grumio, he offers wry comments on what his superiors do and say, but he is more willing to be of service. His routine with Baptista announcing Petruchio’s imminent arrival to the wedding is deliberately confusing, yet there is much humour in the exaggerated detail he supplies regarding Petruchio’s appearance (rather like Grumio’s account of the couple’s journey to Petruchio’s house).
Biondello is sprightly and enjoys the greater status of ‘acting up’ as Tranio/‘Lucentio’s’ manservant when he first presents himself as a suitor and then at the party in Act 5 Scene 1. Having ensured that Lucentio and Bianca get to the church safely, he pretends he doesn’t know his old master, Vincentio, even though this leads to physical chastisement, but then runs for it. He does so again when ‘the game is up’, once he’s realised that his desperate pleas to keep the ruse going will not be heeded.
Curtis only appears in Act 4 Scene 1. Unlike the clearly Italian servants we see in Padua, Curtis heads up a troupe of obviously English servants at Petruchio’s house, a somewhat motley crew. His main role is to be a foil for Grumio, who knocks him about but whom Curtis clearly admires.
Vincentio and The Pedant
Lucentio’s real father only appears near the end of the play, from Act 4 Scene 5 onwards, when, out of fatherly concern (or suspicion) as to what his son is up to, he journeys to Padua. He is the innocent target of all sorts of mayhem. Initially, Petruchio and Katherina treat him as a young woman, then make obvious comments on his advanced age (likely to affront his dignity). When he hears of Lucentio’s wedding, Vincentio is even more bemused.
Vincentio is clearly a generous man, inviting Petruchio in for a drink and offering to pay towards the expenses of his ‘son’s’ party. Many parents in the audience would share his lament at Tranio’s apparent waste of his money:
While I play the good husband at home, my son and my servant waste it all at the university.
Act 5 Scene 1
Act 5 Scene 1
The audience might also sympathise with Vincentio’s very real fear that something dreadful has happened to his son, when his own identity and grasp of reality is rejected in Padua. He recognises his son’s servants, yet they deny him, and events spiral out of control resulting in genuine threat to the old man, until Lucentio restores order and social propriety by kneeling for pardon. No wonder Vincentio cannot immediately let go of his anger.
The Pedant is a slightly mousy character, anxious for his own security, who is transformed by the liberation of acting as someone else. From being concerned about his ‘bills for money’ in Act 4 Scene 2, he next speaks with supreme confidence that ‘Signor Baptista may remember’ him from when they were ‘lodgers at the Pegasus’ in Genoa (Act 4 Scene 4) and even tells his ‘son’ how to behave in company. Ironically (given his obvious acting ability) the Pedant’s ‘plainness’ and ‘shortness’ impress Baptista, who sees him as a similarly careful father.
The illusion grows with the pedant becoming positively pompous as the fake Vincentio, demanding to know who is knocking and then rejecting the real Vincentio’s offer of money for the party. Perhaps there is a hint of desperation in, ‘Away, away, mad ass!’ when he can see that his new reality is threatened by the truth emerging. His role can undoubtedly be played for laughs when all is revealed and the mousy Pedant has to run for his life with Lucentio’s servants.
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