The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 1

Synopsis of Act 3 Scene 1

Bianca is with her two new tutors who are arguing together about who is going to give the first lesson. Bianca says she can decide for herself and she chooses to have a Latin lesson with Lucentio/Cambio. Hortensio/Litio has to tune his lute whilst watching from a distance as Lucentio and Bianca whisper together. Lucentio pretends to teach her Latin clauses, but instead he is telling her how much he loves her. Next, Hortensio attempts to tell Bianca how much he loves her when he pretends to teach music to her, however she favours Lucentio over him. 

Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 1

forbear! Stop it!
wrangling pedant: Hortensio is insulting about his rival tutor, calling him a fussy scholar.
breeching scholar: Corporal punishment was usual for young pupils (at the time, only boys, who would thus have worn breeches) but Bianca asserts she is beyond this.
Hic ibat Simois; hic est Sigeia tellus; / Hic steterat Priami regia celsa senis: The actual quotation from Ovid translates: ‘Here flowed the river Simois; here is the Sigeian land; here stood the lofty palace of old Priam.’ Rather than explain what it means, Lucentio tells Bianca he is in disguise so as to win her love.
old pantaloon: Lucentio/Cambio refers to Bianca’s elderly suitor Gremio by the Commedia stock character’s name. See Theatrical context > The influence of Comedia del Arte.
if I can construe it: Bianca is quick to join Lucentio’s deceit, hinting that he might be successful.
Pedascule: Little fussy scholar.
Aeacides: Another name for Ajax.
Gamut: The musical scale.
tomorrow is the wedding day: Shakespeare speeds up the timescale – the audience may have assumed that this scene is set on the same day as when Petruchio struck his bargain with Baptista, after which he was travelling to Venice to buy wedding clothes, yet suddenly it is already Saturday and the wedding is due to take place the next day.
Seize thee that list! ‘Anyone who wants you can have you.’ Hortensio thinks that if Bianca is willing to flirt with anyone else, she is unworthy of his attention.

Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Act 3 Scene 1

  • Shakespeare uses a number of asides to provide drama and develop character in this scene.
    • What do you learn about their characters from Hortensio’s and Lucentio’s asides?
    • How do these asides contribute to the drama of this scene?
  • Hortensio is suspicious of Bianca and Lucentio and becomes increasingly concerned as he spies on them. What do this, and his final comments, tell you about his expectations of women and marriage?
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