The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 2

Synopsis of Act 4 Scene 2

At Baptista’s house, Tranio/‘Lucentio’ and Hortensio/Litio have seen Bianca flirting with her music tutor, Lucentio/Cambio. Tranio helps Hortensio/Litio to realise that he won’t win Bianca’s hand, so he abandons his disguise and leaves to woo a rich widow instead.
In order to usurp Bianca’s other suitor, Gremio’s, claims, Tranio/‘Lucentio’ still needs to produce a ‘father’. An old man arrives in Padua from Mantua, whom Tranio tricks into believing that his life is in danger because of a new war against Mantuans. Tranio claims he can protect him and allow him to do his business safely, as long as the man pretends to be his father and adopts the name ‘Vincentio’ (after the real Lucentio’s real father). The traveller is so thankful to Tranio that he agrees to the subterfuge.

Commentary on The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 2

any other but Lucentio?: Hortensio is unaware of the dramatic irony that Tranio’s boast that Bianca only favours himself (‘Lucentio’) reflects the reality of her love for the true Lucentio.
The Art to Love: This was a love poem by Ovid (Ars Amatoria).
Quick proceeders: Hortensio refers to the hasty lovers as clever students who work quickly.

wonderful: Appropriate in both its meanings as ‘incredible’ and ‘a positive outcome’!
cullion: Unworthy fellow.
proud, disdainful haggard: Hortensio’s description of Bianca is strikingly similar to former descriptions of Katherina.
tane you napping: Caught you at it (presumably embracing).
Tranio, you jest.: Bianca has clearly been let in on the real Lucentio’s plans, which perhaps also explains why a servant can address her so intimately – she can hardly make a fuss.
let me alone: Leave it to me.
bills .. Florence: Florence was the banking capital of the Italian peninsular. Its issuing of bills/promissory notes was a safer way of trading than carrying gold. Like everyone else, the Pedant’s business in Padua is motivated by money.
As much as an apple doeth an oyster, and all one!: They look as much like each other as an apple looks like an oyster!
make the matter good: Put the plan into action.
to clothe you as becomes you: Clothing denotes status so it was essential for Tranio’s plot to succeed that the Pedant dressed the part.

Investigating The Taming of the Shrew Act 4 Scene 2

  • What light is shed on the audience’s perception of Bianca by:
    • The suitors’ comments about her?
    • The dialogue which involves her?
  • Tranio’s role is to knock Bianca’s other suitors out of the running so that his master Lucentio can woo her and win her. What techniques does he employ to do this in Act 4 Scene 2?
  • ‘If he be credulous .. alone.’ What does this short speech tell us about Tranio’s character/status?


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