The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 2

Synopsis of The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 2

Christopher Sly wakes up from his drunken slumber to find himself in a comfortable bed and dressed in fine clothes. The Lord’s servants offer Sly fine food and wine, and try to persuade Sly that he is in fact an important lord who has a serious illness which makes him think he is a poor tinker. They describe all his lordly activities, such as hunting and hawking, and his fine possessions, including ‘wanton pictures’ of mythical figures of love. After initial resistance, Sly begins to believe their story and look forward to being re-introduced to his ‘wife’ (in fact, Bartholomew, the Page, dressed up as a woman). To divert him, the servants persuade him to watch a play instead, performed by the travelling players and described as ‘a kind of history’.

Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 2

small ale: Sly is asking for cheap beer, while the serving men try to offer him fine wine (sack) and foods. There follows a clear contrast of register between Franco/Latinate terminology (conserve / raiment etc.) and the sturdy realism of a Warwickshire drunk.
Ne’er ask me what raiment I’ll wear: Sly doesn’t have to choose what clothes to wear because he only has one set of clothes, unlike the Lord who has a large and expensive wardrobe.
fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale: Sly owes Marian Hacket, the hostess of a local pub, fourteen pence for beer which he drank without paying for.
your kindred shuns your house: The Lord tells Sly that his madness has driven his family away from him. They cannot bear to see him acting as though he was a tinker and weep for his illness.
Apollo: the Greek god of music and poetry. The servants conjure the elevated world of harmony, ease, riding, hawking and hunting.
Semiramis: An Assyrian Queen of the ancient world known for her love of luxury. 
Dost thou love pictures?: The servants offer to show Sly paintings depicted scantily clad Greek gods and goddesses with amorous intentions – in effect trying to entice Sly with Classical ‘pornography’, before introducing him to his male ‘wife’ (the Page).
Cytherea: The Greek goddess of love who was also known as Aphrodite
Io: In Greek mythology, a beautiful young woman with whom Zeus fell in love. She was changed into a heifer by Zeus’ jealous wife Hera.
Daphne: A nymph who attracted the attention of Apollo and was changed into a laurel tree to escape from him.
Thou hast a lady far more beautiful: Noticing Sly’s enjoyment of the paintings, the servants further entice him by reporting the even greater beauty of his ‘wife’.
Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now?: With a change in his external ‘reality’ Sly doubts his own identity, another of the play’s themes
By my fay, a goodly nap: Sly is astonished when the servants tell him he has suffered from this illness for fifteen years, swearing by his faith (‘by my fay’). The servants say he said very strange things whenever he woke up from his sleep and talked about people who didn’t exist and about taking them to court for not giving him more beer, a world Sly is pleased to dismiss.
leet: The equivalent of bringing charges before the local magistrate or lord of the manor.
Now Lord be thanked for my good amends! Sly thanks God that he has finally woken up out of his madness and begins to enjoy living like a great lord. 
My husband and my lord .. obedience: At the end of the play Katherina will echo the Page’s words of acquiescence to a husband, though here a joke is clearly being played.
this reason stands .. / Ay it stands .. hardly tarry: There is broad farce as the unwilling Page thinks of excuses to resist the attentions of a physically aroused Sly who can’t wait (tarry) too long.
melancholy .. congealed .. frenzy: Elizabethan medicine was based on Greek theories about the four humours of the body which affected the temperament. See 
good you hear a play / And frame your mind to mirth: Shakespeare sets up audience expectations and ‘frames’ the ensuing narrative.

Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Induction Scene 2

  • Think about the role of the servants in elaborating the plan to convince Sly that he is a rich lord. What strategies do they use to convince him? 
    • Which seem most effective?
  • The Lord joins in with the deception and seems to be acting like another servant. What elements of this scene contribute to the theme of identity and disguise that is developing?
  • Analyse the language used by the Lord’s servants as they speak to Sly and to the language Sly uses in return. 
    • What difference do you see in Sly’s language towards the end of the scene? 
    • How do you explain the changes you notice?
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