No fool like an old fool

Gremio is one of Bianca’s suitors. A friend and neighbour of her father, he is an older man who has many of the characteristics of Pantalone in the Commedia dell'Arte tradition. He fits the stock character of being a suspicious, wealthy man who mistakenly believes that he is an attractive suitor for a beautiful young girl. Whilst trying to portray himself as a young lover, he is jealous of his rivals and schemes against them. 
There is never any chance that Gremio would attract Bianca’s attentions, but his fate is further sealed by his error in employing Lucentio/Cambio as a way of gaining the good will of Baptista and his daughter. This gives his rival all the opportunities he needs to seduce Bianca from under Gremio’s nose. 


Gremio is a man of pretension, tempered by worldly realism. He is someone who is more concerned with the cover of a book than its contents, so he is easily befuddled by the learning and wit of others. He adores Bianca, but can’t imagine anyone ‘is so very a fool to be married to hell’ however pretty or rich the bride (here, Katherina) may be. He bids all his wealth for the chance of love, but knows when he has to stop because funds will not stretch.
Gremio’s main efforts at winning Bianca’s hand are in trying to convince Baptista of the extent of his wealth, not in wooing her himself:
First, as you know, my house within the city

Is richly furnished with plate and gold;

Basins and ewers to lave her dainty hands;

My hangings all of Tyrian tapestry;

In ivory coffers I have stuff'd my crowns;
In cypress chests my arras counterpoints,
Costly apparel, tents, and canopies,
Fine linen, Turkey cushions boss'd with pearl,

Valance of Venice gold in needlework…
Act 2 Scene 1    
As a wealthy citizen of Padua, he is a reminder of the gender inequalities in early modern England where a young woman of marriageable age was considered to be under the legal, social and financial authority of her father and her marriage was as much his decision as hers. Gremio confidently considers his offer of marriage the most suitable because of his wealth.

A figure of ridicule?

Although there are comical asides from the servants which make fun of Gremio’s pretensions, Shakespeare does not deal with him too harshly. Rather than being openly humiliated, his hopes are gradually let down and he becomes aware of his own inadequacies. 
Gremio is not a courageous man, as evidenced by his disinclination to confront Katherina, or even to woo Bianca in person. He is someone who likes things to be done in an orderly way, so he is affronted by Petruchio’s forthrightness in wooing and clearly finds Katherina’s aggressive attitude really disturbing. He is appalled and scandalised when narrating the events of the couple’s wedding in Act 3 Scene 2. 
He is often one step behind the wit of others, as he recognises at the wedding breakfast. There is pathos in Act 5 Scene 1 when he waits gamely in the street outside Tranio/‘Lucentio’s’ party, wondering why Lucentio/Cambio isn’t around. Presumably everyone is too busy enjoying themselves inside to notice that he may have tried to gain entry. When it finally becomes clear to him that all hope of Bianca is gone, he ruefully makes the best of a bad situation by acknowledging:
My cake is dough, but I'll in among the rest; 
Out of hope of all but my share of the feast.
Act 5 Scene 1     
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