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  The Taming of the Shrew

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Test Yourself

What do you remember about the play?

From memory, type in the numbered gaps in this brief summary of the play using the words below (some words may need to be used several times):

tinker married irrational competition rude bad temper
money husband offended rich madness agrees
tutors falconer servant wits Bianca secretly
perfect match mismatching

A Lord finds a drunken (1) outside a pub and decides to play a joke on him. He has his servants take the tinker to a richly decorated room and dress him in a nobleman's clothes, so that when he wakes up out of his drunken stupor they can convince him that he is really a lord who has had episodes of (2) that make him think he is a poor tinker. As part of this game, they present the following performance by travelling players called The Taming of the Shrew.

In Padua, two suitors (Gremio, an old man, and Hortensio, a young man) want to marry Baptista's youngest daughter, (3) . But Baptista refuses to let anyone marry her until her older sister, Katherina, is married.

This is a great problem, because although Bianca is sweet and lovely, Katherina is loud, rude and angry. She is always bullying Bianca and she is known locally as the ‘shrew' because of her
(4) . Gremio and Hortensio decide that they must become friends and work together to find a (5) for Katherina.

Meanwhile, a visiting nobleman called Lucentio has fallen head over heels in love with Bianca and, when he overhears that Baptista needs some (6) for his daughters, he decides that he will pretend to be a tutor so that he can get to know Bianca. He tells his (7) Tranio that they must swap clothes and that Tranio must pretend to be the master.

Another visitor arrives in Padua: Petruchio, with his servant Grumio, wants to find a (8) wife in Padua. Hortensio immediately thinks of Katherina, and Petruchio goes to meet her. He is amused by her angry outbursts and is confident that he will be a (9) for her. When he meets her they have an insulting battle of (10) , in which Petruchio seems to get the upper hand when he makes Katherina so angry that she slaps him.

When Baptista and the others come back they are still arguing. Petruchio tells them that Katherina is just pretending to be angry, but really she is in love with him and they are going to be
(11) on Sunday. Then he leaves to arrange the wedding.

When the day comes for Katherina and Petruchio to be married there is a scandal in the town because Katherina arrives at the church but Petruchio is nowhere to be seen. When he finally arrives, he looks like a mad man: he is wearing (12) and old clothes, riding a flea-bitten old horse and looking like he has been travelling for days. He does not care that he has embarrassed Katherina, and Gremio reports that his behaviour during the church service was even worse. He was
(13) to the priest and said the wrong things at the wrong time. In fact he behaved so badly that Katherina was shocked into going through the ceremony with (14) behaviour herself.

After the wedding, Petruchio takes Katherina straight back to his house and puts into practice his plan to ‘tame' her. He pretends that the food is burnt and does not let her eat, he keeps her awake all night by tossing and turning and throwing the bedclothes all over the place and he starts a fight with the tailor, ripping up her newly-made gown and refusing to pay for it. He confides to the audience that he is taking tips from the way a (15) tames his falcon.

When they plan to make a trip back to visit Katherina's family, Petruchio says they will get along so much better if she (16) with him, even if he happens to be wrong. Katherina is so worn out with his bad temper and (17) behaviour that she eventually consents not to be disagreeable anymore. She says that she will agree with whatever Petruchio says.

When they get back to Padua they find that Lucentio and Bianca have (18) got married (though neither of their fathers is happy with them about this) and Hortensio has married a rich widow. They all have dinner to celebrate. When the women withdraw after dinner, Petruchio suggests that they have a (19) to see whose wife is the most obedient. They all laugh at him and remind him that he married the ‘shrew', but they all make a bet on which of the women will come when they are sent for.

When Hortensio and Lucentio send for their wives, the rich widow and Bianca are (20) and send back a message saying that they are busy and will come when they feel like it. When Petruchio sends for Katherina, she comes straight away to see what he wants. Petruchio is happy that they have won the wager and all the (21) , as well as having shown how their marriage is the best out of all of them.