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The Taming of the Shrew
William Shakespeare


A STEP BEYOND

TESTS AND ANSWERS

TEST 1

_____ 1. Baptista will not permit Bianca to marry before Katherina because

    A. it would violate the natural order
    B. it isn't traditional
    C. it is Baptista's right to dispose of his property as he pleases
_____ 2. Gremio, Tranio, and Hortensio offer to help with Petruchio's expenses in wooing Katherina because
    A. he is poor and needs a wealthy wife
    B. they can't court Bianca until Katherina is married
    C. they know that his system will work
_____ 3. Bianca can marry Lucentio the Sunday after Katherina's wedding if
    A. Gremio withdraws
    B. Baptista approves of Lucentio
    C. Vincentio, Lucentio's father, confirms the financial arrangements
_____ 4. Petruchio's taming strategy is compared to
    A. training a pet dog
    B. taming a hawk
    C. teaching a musical instrument
_____ 5. The theme of education is exemplified in the play by
    I. Bianca's lessons from Hortensio/Litio and Lucentio/Cambio
    II. Sly's learning to behave like a lord
    III. Katherina's taming
    A. I
    B. I and II only
    C. I and III only D. I, II, and III
_____ 6. The Taming of the Shrew is an example of which of the following traditional conflicts?
    I. The battle of the sexes
    II. The young against the old
    III. The poor against the rich
    A. I
    B. I and III only
    C. I and II only D. I, II, and III
_____ 7. Katherina is clearly tamed when she
    A. agrees with everything Petruchio says
    B. defends Petruchio before his detractors
    C. cries for food
_____ 8. Petruchio and Katherina's marriage takes place offstage because
    A. reporting it makes Gremio's part bigger
    B. there probably weren't enough actors to play the priest and church officials
    C. it makes for dramatic contrast with the taming scenes
_____ 9. In her closing speech, Katherina advises Bianca and the Widow to
    A. place their hands beneath their husbands' feet
    B. walk two paces behind their husbands
    C. worship their husbands
_____ 10. "Upon my life, I am a lord indeed, / And not a tinker" is spoken by
    A. Tranio
    B. Grumio
    C. Christopher Sly

11. Compare and contrast the attitudes to marriage expressed by Petruchio, Lucentio, and Baptista.

12. How does the main theme of the play illustrate the Elizabethan concept of order?

13. Compare and contrast the characters of Katherina and Bianca.

14. Discuss the role of servants in the play.

15. Who wins in the "battle of the sexes?" Discuss.

TEST 2

_____ 1. The Taming of the Shrew combines stories from

    A. European and Arabian folklore
    B. folklore and Italian comedy
    C. Italian and French comedy
_____ 2. Vincentio wants revenge on Tranio because
    A. he murdered Tranio
    B. Tranio did not show the proper submissiveness
    C. Tranio insisted that he was the equal of Lucentio
_____ 3. In Petruchio's soliloquies he tells the audience
    A. how he feels about Katherina
    B. his strategies for taming her
    C. how like an animal she is
_____ 4. "The taming-school" is
    I. Petruchio's house
    II. a demonstration of how to tame a hawk
    III. a demonstration of strategies to make a wife submissive
    A. I only
    B. I and II only
    C. I and III only D. II and III only
_____ 5. Hortensio and Lucentio disguise themselves as tutors in order to
    A. woo Bianca in disguise
    B. find out how much Baptista is worth
    C. hide from their enemies
_____ 6. Hortensio decides to marry the Widow because
    I. he and Tranio/Lucentio have agreed not to marry Bianca
    II. Bianca clearly loves Lucentio/Cambio
    III. the Widow is in love with him
    A. I and II only
    B. II only
    C. III only D. I, II, and III
_____ 7. Tranio and Lucentio change clothes so that
    A. Lucentio can be introduced to Bianca as her schoolmaster
    B. Tranio can deceive Vincentio, Lucentio's father
    C. they can persuade Petruchio to marry Katherina
_____ 8. A woman's submission to her husband, says Katherina, is necessary because
    A. it is the natural order
    B. it is the law of the land
    C. women are too weak to rule
_____ 9. Grumio denies meat to Katherina because he
    A. is Petruchio's servant
    B. is continuing the taming of Katherina
    C. doesn't like his master's new wife
_____ 10. Baptista doubles Katherina's dowry because
    A. Petruchio has won his bet
    B. Katherina has spoken eloquently
    C. Katherina has changed

11. By what strategy or strategies is Katherina tamed? Give specific examples.

13. Explain the use of animal imagery in the play, giving specific examples.

14. Describe and explain the various deceptions in the play.

15. How would you explain Katherina's eventual "taming"? Support your position with quotations.

ANSWERS

TEST 1
  1. B
  2. B
  3. C
  4. B
  5. D
  6. C
  7. A
  8. C
  9. A
  10. C

11. Look at both the actions and the words of each of the three characters. Petruchio announces that he wants a wealthy wife, but doesn't he want something in addition? Consider the amount of energy he puts into making Katherina an admirable wife. Does Petruchio have an ideal that he knows he can attain? Look carefully at his speeches to and about Katherina in Act II, and consider Katherina's final speech in Act V. It must express ideas she has learned from Petruchio. In the case of Lucentio, observe how quickly he falls in love with Bianca and why. He's attracted to a pretty face and assumes that good character goes along with it. But he too has an expectation of marriage, as you will realize if you consider his actions at the final feast. What is it? Marriage for Baptista is a business proposition: wives are merchandise to be sold as advantageously as possible. Is this necessarily cold and heartless? Isn't it part of a loving father's job to make sure that his daughters live as well married as they could at home with him? Pull all the evidence together and see if there are any common threads, such as the assumption that a wife is dependent on her husband.

12. There's an interesting logical problem involved: if the natural order is hierarchical and is imposed by God, how is it possible for human beings to violate it, even temporarily? Then you'll want to look at incidents that violate the hierarchical order for comic purposes or that try to put it right. The Lord's elevation of Sly runs counter to the natural order, but it's intended to be temporary. Petruchio tames Katherina because he "will be master of what is mine own." He proves his words not only with Katherina but with his own servants, whom he curses for not greeting him properly. Katherina describes the proper order for domestic happiness in her final speech, but Bianca and the Widow apparently don't accept her view. Look at the reasons Vincentio desires revenge on Tranio for another violation of the hierarchy. You may conclude that the play illustrates both the Elizabethan order and the factors that brought it to an end.

13. When you contrast characters, be prepared for some surprises. You'll need to make notes on everything they do and say and consider what the evidence adds up to. Bianca and Katherina begin as opposites in the first scene, where Katherina exhibits her temper while Bianca stands demurely by and Lucentio falls in love with her. Then look at the end of the play, where they are opposites again- but on different sides. Katherina now seems all virtue and Bianca has disappointed her new husband. Then trace how their characters develop in two contrary directions. Review Bianca's control over Hortensio/Litio and Lucentio/Cambio, and her willing deception of her father. She never gives any sign of a bad conscience. Then look at Katherina in her first scene with Petruchio and at her tears when he does not come to marry her. One sister may be hardening and the other softening. You may wish to consider the idea that Katherina has greater potential than Bianca and that Petruchio senses it from the first.

14. According to the Elizabethan order, servants should obey their masters in everything. But they aren't always simply agents of a master's will. They have minds of their own. The plots of The Taming of the Shrew would be entirely impossible without the ingenuity of the servants. Tranio is obviously the highest on the scale of intelligence and social standing, for he impersonates his master with style and acuity. It's not too extreme to say that he does much better as Lucentio than Lucentio could have done himself. Grumio is trusted by his master, Petruchio, to continue the taming of Katherina. Biondello, Lucentio's other servant, makes arrangements at the church for the wedding of Lucentio and Bianca- and then has a hard time persuading his somewhat slow master to take advantage of them. Is the master- servant relationship based on anything besides class structure? You'll also want to mention the role of servants in the verbal comedy of the play, touching on Grumio's quarrel with Petruchio, Biondello's description of Petruchio arriving for his wedding, and Tranio's conversation with the bridegrooms at the final feast.

15. There may be several answers to this question. At first glance you'd be inclined to say of course Petruchio wins his battle, and Lucentio and Hortensio lose. But Petruchio may only appear to have won. If Katherina has learned how to please him but yet retains her own independent spirit, hasn't she won? She has won by ingenuity and manipulation, but, still, she has won. In that case, does the concept of winning the battle mean anything? Instead of a victory of one side or the other, a truce may be called. And in the search for harmony, a truce is a victory. You'll enjoy looking for the paradoxes in the situation: Katherina wins the battle by pretending to lose, but Bianca and the Widow lose because they think they've won. You'll want to consider whether there really is a battle: isn't it, instead, a search for balance in a relationship?

TEST 2

  1. B
  2. B
  3. B
  4. C
  5. A
  6. D
  7. A
  8. A
  9. B
  10. C

11. When does the taming begin? Petruchio's speech announcing his strategy occurs in Act IV, but a good deal of progress has been made before then. Look at Petruchio's first soliloquy in Act II, just before he meets Katherina for the first time. He tells the audience that he will try a strategy of contradiction in which he will counter all her fury with mildness and praise. He does so and apparently at least captures her interest, because he addresses her in a way completely new to her. But then what strategy is he using when he comes to the wedding in rags on a broken-down horse? What contribution to the taming does that make? Try to explain the steps that lead to Katherina's submission, including her exhaustion and desire not to go through the whole process again. As you analyze the parts that constitute the taming, you'll be surprised at the psychological sophistication Petruchio shows. Make it clear in your answer.

12. You aren't being asked to act like a Shakespearean scholar and try to figure out what might have happened to the rest of the Sly framework, if there was more to it. You aren't necessarily being asked to assume that there are themes in common. The question requires you to look closely at the play and then to make a case either for or against. The case for a connection can be constructed from the similarity between Katherina's final speech and the Lord's instructions to the page who is to play Sly's wife; from the deliberate upsetting of the natural order when the Lord makes Sly into an aristocrat, just as Katherina has upset the natural order by her disobedience; from the deception practiced on Sly and the deception practiced on Baptista. The case against a connection is based on the lack of common story between the two plots: the two sets of characters share no bonds- either in setting or in story. If you were going to write a framework for the shrew story, you'd try to put in something with a clearer connection to the theme. Sly could be driven from his house by a shrewish wife, fall asleep by the alehouse wall, and dream of ways to deal with her. Decide which case is stronger, and answer the question in your first sentence.

13. You are asked to explain the use of animal imagery, so your answer must contain reasons for the choice. The title of the play is an example of animal imagery. It's the master image of the play, elaborated on by Petruchio: Katherina is a wild animal to be tamed. At first, she's a horse who needs breaking, then a "haggard," a wild hawk who has lived free. Bianca is also a haggard, according to Hortensio. When imagery is used, it adds to the plain message, so that you understand more fully in fewer words. What is being conveyed with the use of animal imagery? Is it always a relationship between tamer and tamed? Try to find other animal images and explain their role. Do they have sexual or comic connotations? One image may include a sense of both low and high values: a possession as well as a prize.

14. There's a great deal of deception in The Taming of the Shrew, some of it obvious and some of it subtle. Tranio and Lucentio set out to deceive Baptista, but they also deceive Gremio, Hortensio, Petruchio, and ultimately the Pedant. The one person they can't deceive is the real Vincentio. To what extent can you say that Petruchio deceives Katherina when he marries her? She certainly doesn't expect to be treated as she is. Surprisingly, Bianca and the Widow are also deceivers, if you think about what their new husbands expect of them and what they get. Your answer should catalog all the kinds of deception in the play. Is there anyone who isn't a deceiver or deceived? And what attitude to widespread deception do the characters express?

15. Is Katherina really "manned" as a hawk is manned- broken to her master- or has she learned to play the game? You have to look at the evidence and make a sound case for what you decide. She shows no signs of yielding, despite her exhaustion, hunger, and frustration, until first, Petruchio tells her directly not to cross him, and second, Hortensio pleads with her to agree with her husband so they can continue their journey. Does this mean that she suddenly realizes that nothing will work with Petruchio and she might as well give up? Or does it mean that he has shown her a way out and she takes it? You'll also want to consider her speech and general behavior at the feast. If she were really broken, it's unlikely that she could show her old spirit when she's exchanging words with the Widow. On the other hand, the speech describing a wife's duty is so elaborate and eloquent that it's difficult to believe someone could produce such a performance without some conviction. An actress playing Katherina has to have a clear idea of the character's motivations. Another way of looking at the question is to imagine how an actress could play Katherina today.

[The Taming of the Shrew Contents]


TERM PAPER IDEAS AND OTHER TOPICS FOR WRITING

  • THEMES
    1. Compare the education found in the play with the real education available to men and women in Elizabethan times.
    2. Write an essay explaining how a modern audience could enjoy The Taming of the Shrew.
    3. If you had to tell someone the major theme of the play, what would you say? Give your reasons.
    4. You have been asked to stage The Taming of the Shrew. You believe that the major theme is the relationship of illusion and reality. Describe the sets you would design to make that theme clear.
    5. At least three lies are told in the play. For example, Lucentio tells Biondello that he has killed a man and so must be disguised as Tranio to avoid being arrested. Consider the relationship of these lies to the main plots and the themes.
  • THE CHARACTERS
    1. Write a character sketch of Petruchio. Include your opinion as to whether his techniques could be successful today.
    2. Compare the characters of the lovers in the play- Petruchio, Hortensio, Lucentio, Gremio.
    3. Why might Katherina be considered an ideal mate for Petruchio?
    4. Contrast the young characters with the old ones. How are the goals of each group realized?
    5. Write a group character portrait of the servants in the play.
    6. Compare and contrast the relationships between fathers and their children.
    7. Which character is most like a twentieth-century person? Why?
    8. Which characters could the play do without? Support your decision with reasons.
  • STRUCTURE
    1. Analyze the structure of Act II to show how the scenes relate to the Petruchio-Katherina confrontation.
    2. Choose your favorite scene or act and describe a staging of it. Where would you put the characters? What would the sets be? How would action proceed?
    3. Could either of the plots, the Petruchio-Katherina plot or the Bianca-Lucentio plot, stand on its own? Argue for either one of them, or argue that they cannot be separated.
    4. Compare the two plots, Petruchio-Katherina and Bianca-Lucentio. How are they different and how are they similar?
  • MISCELLANEOUS
    1. Many items come in pairs: two arrivals in Padua, two sisters, two marriages, two disguised suitors, two fathers, etc. Write an essay showing how these and other pairs are used to express variations on a theme.
    2. Analyze the role of money in the play, how it affects the motivations of the characters and the plot developments.
    3. Animal imagery dominates the play. But what other images are used?
    4. Look carefully at the speeches in prose and in poetry. Who speaks prose and who speaks poetry? When and why?
    5. Look at all the rhymed couplets. Where do they occur and why?
    6. Could any, some, or all of the events in The Taming of the Shrew take place today? Which ones, if any, and why?

REFERENCE
THE STORY, continued


ECC [The Taming of the Shrew Contents] [PinkMonkey.com]

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