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
The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 1
Synopsis of Act 4 Scene 1
Petruchio and Katherina arrive at Petruchio’s house late at night after a long, cold journey, Grumio having already arrived to ensure the servants have food and a fire ready for them. He recounts the events of the couple’s journey, in particular how Katherina fell off her horse into the mud whilst Petruchio just rode off.
The servants line up to attend Petruchio’s and Katherina’s arrival but are berated for not being ready. Next, Petruchio angrily demands food to be brought for them, then throws it away saying it is burnt, to the disappointment of a starving Katherina. Petruchio sends away all subsequent food, claiming that it isn’t good enough for his wife, regardless of her wishes. Exhausted, she goes to bed.
In a soliloquy, Petruchio tells the audience that he intends to stop Katherina from sleeping. He is using the techniques of a falconer, who tames hawks by depriving them of food and rest until they are dependant, in order to tame Katherina.
Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 1
The journey undertaken by Petruchio and Katherina is one which takes Katherina far away from her family, city and accustomed culture. It is an arduous journey and is used by Petruchio as part of the ‘taming’ process.
Ultimately Katherina is on a journey of self-discovery as well. Travelling is part of her education, as it was for medieval pilgrims (see The world of Chaucer > making sense of the tangible world > Pilgrims and pilgrimage; Big ideas from the Bible > Pilgrims and sojourners).
Was ever man so rayed? Grumio is complaining that he has never been so cold or muddy. He speaks in prose and utters a complaint typical of stock character servants.
a little pot .. belly: Grumio echoes the language of two Psalms which each express extreme suffering (Psalms 22:15) and distress at exile (Psalms 137:6) out of all proportion to his own.
hot: Angry and hot-tempered.
three inch fool .. thy horn is a foot: Curtis jokes about Grumio’s shortness of stature, which he accepts in preference to having Curtis’ foot long ‘horn’ – a horn was the sign that a man had been cuckolded (his wife committing adultery).
rushes strewed: Fresh reeds to cover the floor.
imprimis: In the first place.
thou shoulds’t have heard: Grumio goes into such detail about the tale which he refuses to tell that in fact Curtis hears all of it!
to pluck him off me: Katherina is learning compassion for others even whilst suffering herself.
he is more shrew than she: Petruchio is more bad-tempered and rude than Katherina is.
How now: Hello.
Cock’s passion: ‘God’s passion’. Taking the name of God in vain (i.e. not reverently) contravened the third of the Ten Commandments, but adapted oaths like this were common. The original ‘God’s passion’ refers to the acute suffering of Jesus in the thirty-six hours leading up to his crucifixion.
knaves: Servants; also untrustworthy people.
malthorse drudge: Slow horse.
Will you let it fall? The servant has already served water and it is likely that Petruchio deliberately upsets it then blames the servant. He is creating chaos, then complaining, yet the servants are doing exactly as they should.
heedless joltheads: Clumsy fools.
engenders choler: It is ironic that the apparently furious Petruchio’s rejects the meat in case it makes him or his wife angry! Burnt meat was associated with creating anger or choler (one of the four humours which was believed to affect temperament).
He kills her in her own humour: He is giving her a taste of her own medicine.
sits as one new risen from a dream: Katherina is as bemused with the ‘reality’ Petruchio is creating as the watching Sly is with his new life as a ‘Lord’.
politicly begun my reign: Petruchio alerts the audience to the plan behind his subterfuge of madness in a soliloquy which is central to the whole plot.
My falcon now is sharp and passing empty: Petruchio describes his scheme to ‘tame’ Katherina using the analogy of falcon training. He uses hunger (sharp) and sleeplessness as well as other terms taken from the register of falconry.
man my haggard: Tame my wild bird.
watch her: Keep her from sleeping.
bate and beat: Try to fly away.
Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 1
- Consider Petruchio’s treatment of Katherina.
- Why does he treat her so harshly?
- What effect does this have on her?
- As a director, how would you advise an actor to play Petruchio’s role?
- Read Petruchio’s soliloquy at the end of this scene. Make notes on:
- The content of his soliloquy
- The delivery of his soliloquy
- His attitude towards Katherina
- His relationship with the audience
- Make a mind map or spider diagram of all the different strands of plot which have been introduced in the play so far
- What elements of the ‘taming’ plot reflect on the themes and issues raised in the rest of the play?
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him! 9Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts. 10On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother's womb you have been my God. 11Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. 12Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet - 17I can count all my bones - they stare and gloat over me; 18they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 19But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! 22I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord! May your hearts live forever! 27All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. 29All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. 3But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. 4Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. 5They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 6But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. 9But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. 10I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly. 11Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. 12Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. 19But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. 20Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. 21Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. 22I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. 23Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. 24For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. 25My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. 26The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. 27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. 28For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations. 29All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. 30A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. 31They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
- English Standard Version
- King James Version
1By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion! 4How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land? 5If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 6Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! 7Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations! 8O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! 9Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
1By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land? 5If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 6If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. 7Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. 8O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. 9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
Belonging to the Middle Ages.
In written text, the ordinary plain form of language, not organised into verse form. It is often contrasted with the term 'poetry'.
A stereotypical character in a play, acting out plot-lines typical of their persona.
The Old Testament Book of Psalms which contains 150 Hebrew poems or songs.
The Bible describes God as the unique supreme being, creator and ruler of the universe.
The physical and psychological suffering endured by Jesus during the vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane, arrest, trial, scourging and crucifixion.
Also called 'The Decalogue' (Ten Words). Instructions said to have been given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai, which have not only shaped Jewish and Christian belief and practice but also strongly influenced the legal systems of many countries.
The name given to the man believed by Christians to be the Son of God. Also given the title Christ, meaning 'anointed one' or Messiah. His life is recorded most fully in the Four Gospels.
Execution by nailing or binding a person to a cross.
Relating to irony, in which a comment may mean the opposite of what is actually said.
A classical medical theory in which the body is healthy so long as the four humours (liquids) are in balance.
In ancient and medieval psychology, there were four basic temperaments or humours, which, it was believed, originated in four different organs of the body. Dramatic characterisation was often based on stereotypes of the personality traits that the fo
a speech in drama where one character, alone on stage, speaks
A logical parallel to the thing being discussed, to help forward the argument. Often it is expressed as an extended simile. All analogies have their limits.
In linguistics, the interaction between speaker and recipient, such as diction and tone.
Scan and go
Scan on your mobile for direct link.