CliffsNotes: Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew

CliffsNotes: Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew

CliffsNotes: Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew

CliffsNotes: Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew


The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background. The latest generation of titles in this series also feature glossaries and visual elements that complement the classic, familiar format.

In CliffsNotes on The Taming of the Shrew, you explore one of Shakespeare's most beloved, and imitated, works. In this play within a play, Petruchio, the man from Verona, marries Kate (the shrew of the story), so that Kate's younger sister Bianca may be allowed to take on several suitors and choose one to marry.

Summaries and commentaries lead you, act by act, through this Shakespearean classic, and critical essays give you insight into Shakespeare's historical basis for the play, as well as role playing in The Taming of the Shrew. Other features that help you study include

  • Character analyses of the main characters
  • A character map that graphically illustrates the relationships among the characters
  • A section on the life and background of William Shakespeare
  • A review section that tests your knowledge
  • A ResourceCenter full of books, articles, films, and Internet sites

Classic literature or modern modern-day treasure - you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.



Christopher Sly, a beggar, is tossed out of an alehouse because of his disruptive behavior and quickly falls asleep in front of a Lord’s house. When the Lord returns from hunting, he decides to have some fun at Sly’s expense and quickly devises a plan to have his household convince Sly that he is a lord, rather than a beggar. Sly is placed in the finest chamber and dressed in the finest clothes so that he will be convinced that he owns the lavish setting in which he finds himself. Should Sly not believe he is and always has been lord of the estate, he is to be told he was ill and had lost his memory. While Sly sleeps off his binge, a group of players appears and are quickly enlisted in the Lord’s duping of Sly. He requests they perform a play later that evening (which will mark the play we have come to think of as The Taming of the Shrew). The Lord enlists his servant Bartholomew’s help in making Sly’s duping complete. Bartholomew is to disguise himself as a gentlewoman and pretend to be Sly’s wife.


An induction is traditionally “an introduction; preface or prelude,” a definition which easily fits what Shakespeare is doing here. However, an induction can also be “a bringing forward of separate facts or instances, [especially] so as to prove a general statement.” In many ways, this, too, is what Shakespeare is doing. The Taming of the Shrew’s Induction leads us into the play proper, as the first definition suggests, but it does much more than that. In keeping with the latter definition, the Induction cleverly introduces several key themes such as identity, disguise, illusion, and reality which are developed fully in the play itself. Because we are introduced to these themes from the very beginning, we are consciously and unconsciously preparing ourselves to look for them as the action unfolds.

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