Who’s Afraid of Bianca’s Sister?

The Taming of the Shrew, Act I

After downloading and listening to a lecture series on Shakespearean comedy, I may have to rethink my premises.

Taming has long been one of my favorite plays, but now I wonder if that’s because of a hyper-romantic young man’s misunderstanding. Now that I’m a little older, I must re-read the play yet again, this time prepared to surrender everything I thought I knew.

I used to believe that there were parallels between Shrew and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, especially in the comparison of couples that meet and defy convention.

For this gloss to work, a real love relationship must be established between Kate and Petruchio that connects beyond the surface lessons in wifely subservience.

In the excerpt below, I love the impact of the early-morning revelation, the first of many to follow as the booze wears off and the games come to a crashing halt. We realize that these relationships are nothing like what they first appeared and that true love is a lot more complicated than most of us are willing to admit…or stand up and fight for.

But is this what’s happening in Taming of the Shrew? Or have I seen only what I wanted? What is Shakespeare really up to? Are there any lessons to be drawn – or couples to admire – in this play within a play?

The hard questions have only just begun.


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